Stranded Boy Scouts airlifted from wilderness

Stranded Boy Scouts airlifted from wilderness

22 March 2011

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USA — Boy Scouts from Lompoc and Camarillo were airlifted to safety by helicopter Monday after weekend rains stranded them near Nira Campground in Los Padres National Forest.

Helicopters from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department worked in tandem to lift 12 Boy Scouts and six adult leaders out of the roadless San Rafael Wilderness area after the rain-swollen Manzana Creek prevented their return from a weekend outing.

No one was injured, but those rescued were cold, tired and hungry, county fire Capt. David Sadecki said.

Four flights, two by each department’s helicopter, were required to get everyone to safety at the Santa Ynez Airport. The rescue effort was hampered by strong winds and snow, which limited the number of people that could be carried on each helicopter, according to Sadecki.

The Lompoc Scouts, members of Troop 103, arrived Friday at Nira Campground, which is the end of the road for vehicles, and then hiked up Manzana Creek to Fish Creek and spent Saturday night at the Manzana Narrows, Assistant Scoutmaster Daniel Elliott said.

“It was supposed to be a tiny shower on Saturday — 30 percent chance, and 70 percent on Sunday,” Elliott said. “We were planning on being out of there before it hit. It hit sooner than predicted.”

The rain started about 8 p.m. Saturday and “got really bad about midnight,” he said.

Officials received a call about 8:30 a.m. Monday that the group was stranded near Nira Campground in the mountains north of Lake Cachuma and Figueroa Mountain, Sadecki said. By noon, the rescue was complete.

As the Scouts and their leaders were brought to the airport, they were examined by paramedics from the American Medical Response ambulance service and then taken to the Solvang Veterans Memorial Building where they were reunited with their families.

The weekend storm drenched the coastal mountains with more than 10 inches of rain, which swelled creeks in the area and left the group with no way out.

Lake Cachuma received 11.22 inches of rain over the weekend.

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