Paramedic Deputy Ricky Hernandez prepares to be lowered several hundred feet from the Air 5 rescue copter to retrieve a trapped climber in Millard Canyon on Jan. 22, 2012. Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
by TImothy Rutt
A 19-year-old South Pasadena woman on a day hike was rescued by helicopter from a cliff face Sunday afternoon in Millard Canyon, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
According to a release from the sheriff's office, a U.S. Forestry Recreation Technician working in the Angeles National Forest noticed several people who appeared to be trapped on the cliff and called in rescuers just before noon. By 12:25 PM, rescuers had plucked the woman off the cliff face. Two others, a 17-year old male and 18-year-old female, were retrieved by ground rescuers.
The sheriff's office said that a deputy paramedic was lowered from the sheriff's Air 5 rescue helicoper via hoist to the trapped hiker. She was hoisted up and flown uninjured to Farnsworth Park.
"The young woman was very scared and nearly let go of the cliff to jump into the arms of ESD Paramedic Deputy Ricky Hernandez as soon as he was close enough to reach out to her," said Sheriff's SEB Sergeant Tom Giandomenico, Crew Chief of the rescue. "He motioned to her to wait, and was able to attach the safety harness before we hoisted her up into the rescue helicopter. If she had let go before we were ready, she would not have survived the fall."
Sgt. Giandomenico added, "When we got her into the helicopter it was clear that she was not having fun today and she just wanted to get back onto level ground."
The Altadena Search and Rescue Team, assisted by Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters from Station 82, used rope lines nearby to assist the two hikers who were trapped 40 feet above the canyon bottom. Firefighters and deputies set up a rope system and lowered them about 40 feet to safety.
The three rescued hikers were reunited uninjured with the fourth member of their group, an 18-year-old man who was able to hike out on his own. The sheriff's department says all are residents of South Pasadena, and all were lightly dressed and did not have provisions.
A few hours later -- at 3:40 PM -- the helicopter was sent to rescue four teenage boys trapped on a mountainside north of Azusa near Garcia Canyon Trial. One of the boys called 911 on his cellphone. Deputy Hernandez again was lowered from the helicopter about 300-500 feet above Azusa Canyon to rescue the boys. The sheriff's office in a release says all four boys were safely inside the chopper by 4:50 PM.
But not all rescues were successful this busy afternoon: At approximately 2:35 PM, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Montrose Search and Rescue Team responded to a vehicle over the side call at Angeles Crest Highway at Mile Marker 41.00t. Again, Air-5 and deputy paramedics responded to the crash site some 500 feet over the side in a ravine and hoisted two male victims into the aircraft. One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene, and the victim retrieved from the car and another on the side of the road were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for major trauma injuries. All three victims, aged 18-20 years old, were residents of Pasadena.