As residents of California’s mountain communities have been covered in snow for more than a week, two teenage hikers lost for five days emerged unharmed amid 5-foot snowdrifts, authorities said.
The couple, Riley Ramirez and Cole White, both 17, planned to climb the Pacific Coast trial near Southern California’s highest peak, San Gorgonio Mountain, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. release.
They left on February 26, experienced severe weather and lost contact with their parents, he said. Two days later, family members asked rescuers for help, according to the statement.
On Friday, the crew of a sheriff’s helicopter spotted the couple in a remote area of the trail, landed in heavy snow and rescued the teens, who were taken to the sheriff’s station to be checked out by medical personnel. the department said.
The teens told officers and their parents that they felt safe in his death before the helicopter arrived.
«They told us: ‘We were already convinced that we were going to die,'» said César Ramírez, Riley’s father. The Associated Press.
A sheriff’s officer told the AP that the two survived huddled together, but still suffered from mild hypothermia.
The sheriff’s department has also been busy helping residents stranded in their homes in the snow-capped mountains of San Bernardino and San Gabriel.
San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said at a news conference Friday that deputies were directing convoys of groceries and other supplies to area markets that would otherwise be covered in snow.
Barriers to civilization remained in the area after a rare blizzard brought measured snow accumulation of 6 feet in some places. The sheriff said his deputies are literally facing walls of snow.
«We still have to tear down those walls,» he said.
The sheriff’s department called more than 100 Cedar Pines Park and Valley of Enchantment residents and recovered 17 who said they would not survive without access to supplies, Dicus said.
Katy Curtis, from the community of Crestline, in the San Bernardino Mountains, said snow was piling up to the roof of her home. She recently snowshoeed 5 miles to get gas to run a generator.
“It was probably the longest day of my life,” he said, according to the AP. «We’re all so exhausted in every way.»
Access to food and other necessities has been difficult enough for the sheriff’s department to deliver «ready-to-eat meals,» rations of freeze-dried or canned meat originally developed for military deployment, to remote or unsettling locations.
The MREs «will help them stabilize their food situation,» Dicus said.
Amid third-person panic posts on social media about people stranded on those mountains, the sheriff tried to reassure residents of communities hardest hit by snowstorms in February, including Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead, who lifeguards will help.
«We’re going to get you out, and we’re going to come,» Dicus said.
In recent years, winter was all but over, bringing snow to the mountains of southern California in early March. But this year, it is not known if there will be more to come.
The National Weather Service forecast fresh snow for the Sierra Nevada mountains in the northern half of the state in the coming days and the possibility of a light dusting in the San Bernardino mountains of southern California overnight.
Courtney Brogle and jackie zhou contributed.