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Search and rescue workers locate missing hiker


Last updated 12/13/2015 at Noon

SAN DIEGO - A hiker was located today in a recreation area just over the Riverside County line after being reported missing Saturday evening, a San Diego County Sheriff's official said.

Search and rescue workers found the man, identified as 55-year-old John Sanchez of Riverside, at 8:25 a.m., Sgt. Carlos Medina said.

Sanchez suffered through a frigid night without any serious medical consequences, Medina said, adding that the former Marine was “found to be in good physical condition. He stuck it out in a T-shirt and jeans.”

At 9:16 p.m. Saturday, deputies from the Borrego and Ranchita area responded to a report of a missing hiker in the Rockhouse Canyon area, located west of the Clark Dry Lake area in Borrego Springs.

Sanchez -- who with others was looking for a grounded weather balloon with a GPS device attached -- was last seen by his companions at about 3 p.m. when they became separated, Medina said.

Although the weather balloon was found, Sanchez's companions were unable to locate him.

Sanchez said he “basically took a wrong turn” somewhere along the route, Medina said. “It's pretty rough terrain out there,” Medina added. “Then it got dark, and he didn't have the proper equipment” such as a cell phone.

After being informed of Sanchez's disappearance, deputies called in various air support during the night and checked the area, but did not find him.

With evening temperatures dropping into the low 40s in such a remote area and because he carried minimal supplies, Sanchez was classified as a “missing person at risk,” Medina said.

Sheriff's Search and Rescue was activated at 3:01 a.m. Sunday to assist in the search, along with California State Park Rangers.

As dawn broke, Sheriff's Department and U.S. Border Patrol helicopters worked with SAR ground units in the field.

With assistance from SAR ground personnel, Border Patrol helicopters located Sanchez in Rockhouse Canyon, Medina said.

The exact location was in Riverside County, about one-half mile north of the San Diego County line.

Sanchez was flown to the command post area on Rockhouse Trail, and later reunited with his hiking companions and family members, Medina said.


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