Two 17-year-old boys are lucky to be alive after getting stranded in a snowstorm during a multi-day hike on a mountain trail in Southern California last week, authorities said.
Riley Ramirez, of Cyprus, California, and Cole White, of Portland, Oregon, were on a 10-day trek on the Pacific Crest Trail near the San Gorgonio Mountains when the severe weather dumped feet of snow in the mountains and left them unable to contact help, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.
After losing contact with the teens, Ramirez’s father, Cesar Ramirez, told The Associated Press that he called the sheriff’s office for help.
The sheriff’s office launched a helicopter to the teens’ last known location on the trail and eventually located them in heavy snow. Ramirez had lost his jacket in the severe wind and their tent had broken, Cesar Ramirez said.
CALIFORNIAN WRITES ‘HELP US!!’ IN SNOW AS WINTER STORM COULD STRAND RESIDENTS FOR A WEEK
The teens had set off for a 10-day hike on the Pacific Crest Trail near the San Gorgonio Mountains in Southern California. (Reuters/Sam Mircovich/File Photo)
“They’ve told us, ‘We were already convinced we were going to die,’” the father said.
Cesar Ramirez described the teens as avid hikers who were well-supplied for their trek with food, a tent and snowshoes. He said they had extensive training and aspired to join the military.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Scalise said the boys were slightly hypothermic and lucky to be alive after huddling together for three nights to stay warm. He said they were well-prepared for the hike but not for the massive amounts of snow.
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“They knew there was weather. But I don’t think they expected the amount,” he said.
Back-to-back storms dumped as much as 10 feet of snow on California’s mountain communities, forcing Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency in 13 counties, including San Bernardino County.
A day earlier, a separate rescue operation further north in Inyo County unfolded for a missing driver, who had driven out from the community of Big Pine and was last heard from on Feb. 24.
Rescuers in a helicopter spotted the man waving inside his partly snow-covered vehicle Thursday after the California Highway Patrol pinged his cell phone, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office said.
A helicopter crew spotted a partly snow-covered vehicle with the missing man waving inside. (Inyo County Sheriff’s Office)
Another strong storm dumped more snow Saturday on Northern California mountain communities, and a winter storm warning was in effect through early Monday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.