Missing Pine Cove Man

March 06, 2020
Pine Cove, Webster Trail

Written by James Eckhardt.

It was Friday, and RMRU members were just starting to show up to the search and tracking recertification we were hosting for all the California MRA teams, when, at 3:00PM, we got a callout. A resident of Pine Cove had not been seen since Wednesday, and his car was near a trail he often hiked. We were able to immediately send four members, Tyler, Kase, Blake and I to respond. We did a hasty search of the nearby trails and dirt roads, while Star-9 searched by air. We searched until dark with no sign.

Search Area Image
by Blake Douglas

Written by Cameron Dickinson.

On the weekend of March 7th, Riverside Mountain Rescue would host the California Region MRA Reaccreditation test, where all accredited mountain rescue teams within the state (approx. 450 searchers total) would venture to Camp Ronald McDonald in Garner Valley near Idyllwild where this event would be held. Despite the large involvement our team members during this event, we would be continuing to respond to rescue calls as usual if the situation arises. Well it turned out that our team would receive that call.

RMRU Search Member
Image by Blake Douglas

On Friday evening, RMRU would respond to a call that was received by Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept. of a male that didn’t return home. With the subject’s car being located that evening in residential community of Idyllwild, team members were dispatched to that location to perform a hasty search within the surrounding vicinity. With more pertinent information funneling in, specific search assignments would be generated in preparation for a larger scale search the following day on Saturday.

North Fork Search Area
Image by Blake Douglas

Saturday 3/7/2020: If there’s ever a day when extra rescue resources were needed quickly for a search, it would be the day that all the state’s accredited mountain rescue teams happen to be in your town! All the necessary approvals were in place to utilize these outside SAR resources. Some of the larger teams were able to divide part of their team for this search, while still having adequate member coverage to complete their reaccreditation testing. San Diego Mountain Rescue, Sierra Madre Search & Rescue (Los Angeles County), San Bernardino County (Cave Team), China Lake Mountain Rescue (Kern County), Santa Barbara County Mountain Rescue were some of the teams that we’re able to provide personal. Desert Sheriff’s Search & Rescue (Riverside County), Riverside County Search Dogs, and many members of our team also participated in the search.

I was part of a 3-man team which included fellow team Kevin and Blake. We would spend the day searching an out and back stretch of the North Fork San Jacinto River. This would be a slow and difficult search due to steep canyons, navigating on and around large and in some cases slippery boulders, large drop offs, downed trees, flowing water, and poison oak. We would complete this assignment without any sign of our missing subject.

Kevin in Boulder Field
Image by Blake Douglas

Sunday 3/8/2020: On Sunday I would search a second section of the North Fork San Jacinto River. This would be a 4-man team that would include fellow member Corey, and two of our Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputies. On this day the terrain would be much of the same as the day before, however we encountered some steeper waterfalls and more technical scrambling. I was initially concerned of our Deputies safety in this type of terrain as well as their technical abilities, despite their fit looks. It turns out that both are very athletic, and both competitors in triathlons. Unfortunately, we had no luck in locating our subject.

Written by Eric Holden.

Unfortunately, the searches over the weekend had not turned up any clues to Roy’s whereabouts. We did however speak with one of Roy’s friends on Sunday that mentioned he always goes downhill and at one point said he would try to exit via the North Fork down to highway 74.

Monday morning knowing this, James and I would descend this route. It’s a highly technical route involving 8 rappels in waterfalls. We got dropped off by the deputy, hiked down to the North Fork of San Jacinto and began our canyoneering decent. Putting on our wetsuits we called out for Roy and looked for any sign that he may have come down this way. After a 4- hour descent we did not find any additional clues. James went off to work while I returned to base.

Just as I was about to leave base word came in that we had found a clue. We quickly concentrated all searching resources in that area. We didn’t find any more evidence of Roy’s disappearance. The search would be halted after today due to heavy rain fall until the weekend.

RMRU Members Involved: Steve Bryant, Kase Chong, Blake Douglas, James Eckhardt, Mike George, Glenn Henderson, Beth Jeffery, Kaylean May, Rob May, Shani Pynn, Vinay Rao, Jesse Rodriguez, and Tyler Shumway.