By Mary O’KEEFE
A La Crescenta man who went for a hike in Deukmejian Wilderness Park on Sunday morning got an unexpected helicopter ride home.
The 77-year-old hiker went to hike the Loop at Deukmejian about 9:30 a.m. when he went off the trail and fell off a hill.
He heard a stream off the trail and apparently went to investigate, said Mike Leum, Montrose Search and Rescue Team member.
Unfortunately he took a tumble about 40 feet down the side of a cliff. The man used his cellphone and called his wife who in turn contacted emergency responders.
“We were training at Switzer Falls,” said Robert Sheedy the MSR operations leader for the rescue. “We responded to Deukmejian.”
In addition to falling down the cliff, the man had also lost his glasses.
“So he couldn’t see very well and I found out later that if it wasn’t for a tree that stopped him he would have fallen even farther,” Sheedy said.
Luckily the man’s cellphone was charged and responders were able to find him through the help of U.S. Air Force equipment.
“They were able to ping his cellphone and determine where he was,” he said.
Los Angeles County Air Five helicopter picked the man up and landed at Deukemejian Wilderness Park. Air Five and Glendale paramedics cared for the man who had only minor cuts and scrapes.
“He was lucky,” Sheedy said.
Sheedy checked on him a day after the fall and found the hiker was doing fine and was, in fact, going deep sea fishing later in the week.
“He was lucky,” Sheedy said, knowing full well that other rescues have not been this easy. “I just want to remind everyone not to go hiking alone.”