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Amateur Radio Credited in Rescue of Wayward Hikers


Authorities in Kern County, California, say Amateur Radio was responsible for the rescue of five adult hikers, who became lost in San Emigdio Canyon. The group had left Pine Mountain Club on the morning of Saturday, March 22, hiking to a vehicle parked near Highway 166 when they went astray.

“They had hand-held radios with them and called an Amateur Radio operator in Pine Mountain Club to report [they were] lost,” a Kern County Sheriff’s Department summary said. “Air-1 quickly located the lost hikers in a dry creek bed, approximately 12 miles south of Highway 166, and a ground unit transported them to their vehicle.” The sheriff’s office said the hikers, who had plenty of food and water, “were extremely exhausted, but did not require medical aid.”

In the hiking party were Cliff Brunk, K8BUW, and his wife Judith, KG6BXM. According Don Quick, KW6PMC, who knows the couple, Cliff Brunk — who was carrying a hand-held transceiver — fell and struck his head. While not seriously injured, he was in pain. At that point, the group decided to return home, but then realized they were lost and outside of cell phone range. Using his radio, Brunk was able to reach Bill Hopper, AB6CF, via the Pine Mountain repeater, Quick said. The injured ham reported the hiking party’s predicament but couldn’t provide details regarding their location. Another member of the party was able to pass along the group’s location, however, and Hopper called 911.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Department dispatched a helicopter, which was able to locate the hiking party, but the nearest landing site was too far away for the rescue party to communicate with the hikers. A sheriff’s deputy drove into the canyon near the spot where the hikers were stranded, and they walked to his patrol car. The weary hikers got back to their homes late that evening. — Thanks to Donald Quick, KW6PMC, and the Kern County Sheriff’s Department





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