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Hiking and Caving Safety

In light of recent rescues, Sheriff's Department warns of risks.

In the wake of a family's tragic loss of their son in an , the San Diego County Sheriff's Department has issued safety guidelines for cave hiking.

People can become disoriented once inside caves, according to Sgt. Don Parker of the Sheriff's Search and Rescue Unit in a news release.

Search and rescue and mining teams from all over Southern California recently worked to bring out the body of a young man who disappeared in an unstable area of Arroyo Tapiado in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Parker suggests the following tips:

  • before entering a cave, tell someone that you are going, give them the location of the cave, plus the time you will enter and return;
  • never go alone and know your limits;
  • take ample food, water, sunscreen, a flashlight, a map, GPS, first aid kit, whistle and multi-purpose tool, such as a knife;
  • cell phone service may be limited but it's good to take a cell phone anyway;
  • wear proper clothing, boots, sunglasses, helmet, gloves, etc.

Sheriff's Search and Rescue and the ASTREA helicopter did more than 80 rescues in San Diego County in 2011, according to Parker.

For more information, contact Sgt. Parker at 619-956-4990

Serge Issakov May 30, 2012 at 04:39 PM
While disorientation can be a problem in caves in general, I don't know of a single case in which disorientation was a problem causing anyone to get lost in these particular caves. It certainly wasn't a factor in this case, which was caused by walking on top of the caves, a practice which has been documented to be hazardous by Jerry Schad (in his popular hiking book Afoot and Afield in San Diego Count) for decades. This young man fell into a crevice a mere 35 feet from where he was last seen by family. He was found by the family almost a month later. Why Search and Rescue did not thoroughly search every such crevice within a 100-200 foot radius of where he was last seen, which should have been their first priority but clearly was not, has not been explained, so far as I know.
Donald Davis May 31, 2012 at 02:29 PM
If you are such an expert, why didn't you offer your help.
Mrs. MacGillicuttie May 31, 2012 at 04:32 PM
ole jerry schad-god bless...
Mrs. MacGillicuttie May 31, 2012 at 04:34 PM
because the guy was beyond help. and too many chiefs-not enough indians.....

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