Missing Off-Roader

July 22, 2023
Pine Cove near Idyllwild

Written by: Richard Yocum.

On Saturday, 7/22/2023, 6 members of RMRU had recently wrapped up technical rope training at Pine Cove Park when a couple of hours later, at 3:20 pm and long enough for them to have driven down the mountain, RMRU was activated to search for a missing off-roader in Pine Cove. A 78-year-old man and his friend in their jeep were exploring remote roads west of Pine Cove when about 1.3 miles from Pine Cove they stopped for him to take a restroom break. After an hour had passed without him returning, the friend called to report him missing.

An aerial search by two Riverside Aviation helicopters was not successful in locating the missing person. From my house only a half-mile away, I responded to the location of the command post at the Pine Cove Market and waited until Michael George arrived. Also coming were Vinay Rao and Shani McCullough from RMRU, Riverside Sheriff’s bloodhound and drone units, and 3 members from Desert SAR.

As Michael and I started driving down the dirt route to the last known location, we received word that a deputy had located the missing person, alive and well. After his restroom break, he wasn’t certain which location to take to return to his jeep. He climbed several ridges thinking that the road would be just over the ridge, and eventually became exhausted and sat down.

He had heard his friend calling and he responded, but his friend did not hear him. Then he saw a Sheriff’s vehicle coming down a road and he was able to make his way back to that road and sat down on the road, which is where he was found by the deputy at about 4:50 pm. He was tired and thirsty, but otherwise well without injury. He was driven back to the Pine Cove Market where he was evaluated by paramedics and declined transportation to a hospital, instead opting for his friend to drive them both back to his home in Fallbrook.

RMRU Members Involved: (Michael Goerge, Shani McCullough, Vinay Rao, and Richard Yocum)

Other Agencies Involved:
• Riverside County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team
• Riverside County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit (Rescue 9 and Star9 helicopters)
• Riverside County Sheriff’s drone and bloodhound
• Desert SAR Team (3 members)