Against seemingly insurmountable odds, a California man whose vehicle plunged down a steep mountainside was found alive in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks after an extensive multi-day search. The odds were certainly against his rescue since his vehicle was almost completely hidden from view by thick vegetation.
The keys to his discovery? A sharp-eyed searcher in a helicopter and video surveillance records of vehicles which passed through a park entrance station.
Family members of the 63-year-old California resident had reported him missing to the Bakersfield Police Department on Tuesday May 28, and that department issued a regional "be on the lookout" message that included a description of his vehicle. Unfortunately, little information was available about his plans when he disappeared, so there was no basis for an organized search in specific areas.
Late in the day on Thursday, May 30, family members contacted park staff at Sequoia And Kings Canyon National Parks and advised that the missing man might have been travelling to the park or other public lands in the area. That's still a very broad area, but based on that information, video surveillance records confirmed that the man's vehicle had entered the park's southern entrance via Highway 198, and a full-scale search was begun.
Other agencies, including the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, and Sequoia National Forest assisted in the search; by June 1 a total of 42 park employees were committed to the mission.
On Saturday, June 1, a searcher aboard a helicopter spotted the man's vehicle 300 feet down a mountainside approximately one-quarter mile north of a popular vista known as Deer Ridge. Due to the thick brush, the vehicle was virtually invisible from the road. The victim was alive when found, but the extent of his injuries was not released. After a technical rescue aided by the helicopter, the man was transported to a hospital by ground ambulance.