By Mary O’KEEFE
After a long night of searching Montrose Search and Rescue found two missing hikers in the Switzer Falls area.
“We got the call between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. last night,” said Janet Henderson, MSR member.
Two brothers, both in there 50s, one from La Cañada Flintridge the other from Connecticut, had gone hiking earlier on Wednesday in the Angeles National Forest. Their apparent plan was to spend the day hiking then meet up with family members at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club for dinner at about 5:30 p.m.
At first when they didn’t show up at the appointed time the family wasn’t too worried. They just thought they had taken a longer hike, Henderson said.
But when it got later and still no sign of the brothers the family began to worry.
“One of the [family members] drove up to Switzers Falls and found one of the brother’s cars in the parking lot,” Henderson said.
Family members told MSR members and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s that the brothers had each taken their own vehicle however only one car was found.
So another search began to find the second vehicle.
“[Deputy] patrol units looked at the usual spots, and at La Cañada County Club but found nothing,” Henderson said.
A deputy finally found the other car in the Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena. This indicated to rescuers the hikers appeared to have planned to walk from Switzer to the park.
“We knew the guys were in the Arroyo,” Henderson said.
MSR members Mike Leum and Tim Berry hiked into the area. They yelled as they walked, listening for a response.
“They were hiking down to the debris basin which is where we usually find [lost hikers],” she said.
The problem for the MSR team members were there was little to no information about where the two brothers had planned to hike.
“They failed to tell anyone where they were going or what their plan was,” Leum said.
Berry and Leum continued to yell as they hiked. They heard a yell back.
“But it wasn’t coming from where we thought. The yell was coming far above the basin,” Leum said.
One of the brothers had climbed up the side of the mountain in an attempt to reach the highway but instead got stuck on a cliff. He had climbed the side of the mountain in the dark.
“When we found him he was holding onto a dead tree root,” Leum said.
It was dark, about 5:30 am., and too dangerous to climb up to get the hiker, and daylight was approaching so Berry and Leum communicated with the hiker their plan to wait for helicopter support at first light.
The concern for the team members at that point were the second brother who, they were told, was not in hiking shape.
The brother on the cliff told Leum and Berry he had left his brother about a mile down the debris basin. Leum hiked toward that area and found the brother, who was hungry and thirsty but not injured.
LASD helicopter Air 5 airlifted the brother off the cliff, along with Berry. Then airlifted the second brother and Leum from their location.
“They had not hiked the area in about 20 years,” Henderson said. “They got caught by dark.”