Deer Springs Missing Person

May 20, 2021
Deer Springs Trail Head

Written by Shawn Dennstedt.

At approximately 2110 hours, a callout was initiated via Mission Manager for members to respond to the Deer Springs trailhead in Idyllwild reference a 45-year-old white male adult who had last been heard from at 1000 hours that morning.

It was reported by the man’s mother that he was trying to find a shortcut between the Deer Springs trailhead and Pine Cove when his cell phone (a Razor-type flip phone) had lost power. It was unknown what clothing he was wearing, but it was believed he was possibly wearing an orange and black backpack and traveling with a small, white, poodle-type dog.

Upon arrival at the trailhead, a Command Post (CP) was established. Vinay, Matt, and Beth began a hasty search with a deputy who was utilizing a bloodhound K-9 to confirm that the subject had indeed used the Deer Springs trail. Coby manned the CP, while Steven and Shawn assisted with support duties.

The K-9 was able to aggressively track the subject’s scent to Strawberry Junction, where the deputy determined his K-9 was tired and needed to return to the CP. Beth escorted the deputy and his K-9 back to the CP, while Vinay and Matt continued to the Marion Ridge Trail, finishing at the Thousand Trails Campground with negative results. All members logged out of the CP at approximately 0400 hours, with the understanding that teams would reconvene at the trailhead on 05/21/21 at 0700 hours to continue the search.

After getting about an hour and a half of sleep at the Mountain Station courtesy of Deputy Funkhouser, Steven and Shawn returned to the Deer Springs trailhead where they were met by Glenn Henderson, members of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT) and Idyllwild dayshift deputies.

It was decided that Steven and Shawn would track from the Deer Springs trailhead, to Strawberry Cienega, to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) ending at Humber Park. Any additional responding members would be assigned as appropriate. Steven and Shawn stepped off at about 0800 hours. At about 0900 hours just shy of the two-mile mark on Deer Springs Trail, Steven and Shawn encountered a hiker matching the subject’s description.

After confirming the subject’s identity, the subject stated he had continued hiking the previous day thinking he would eventually find a parking lot. At dusk, when his search for a parking lot met with negative results, he decided to take shelter overnight in the emergency hut he stumbled across on San Jacinto Peak.

The subject was strong and in good spirits. While he did not have overnight gear, he was wearing a light jacket, several layers of clothing, and hiking shoes. He was wearing a purple backpack in which he carried a small white dog who seemed perfectly content to be carried in this manner.

Steven and Shawn escorted the subject back to the CP where he gave a statement to deputies, was evaluated by medical personnel, and released. The subject said he was incredibly grateful and deeply sorry for any trouble his perceived absence had caused. All members debriefed and logged out of the CP by 1000 hours.

RMRU Members Involved: (Coby Brown, Shawn Dennstedt, Matt Frenken, Glenn Henderson, Beth Jeffery, Vinay Rao, and Steven Rider)