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Search & Rescue

Three Stuck on Cliff Rescued by Helicopter


May 31, 2016

MOUNT BALDY, Calif – On Monday, May 30, at 3:00 p.m., 25 year-old Martha Banuelos and 15 year-old Joshua Banuelos both of Chatsworth, along with 17 year-old Hugo Orellana of Reseda and another friend were hiking in the along the Devil’s Backbone trail near Mt. Baldy. There they made the mistake to leave the trail and climb down south of the trail on an extremely steep and unstable cliff.

After climbing down approximately 150 yards, three of the four became stuck on a cliff due to the terrain, and were unable to move. Hikers from the trail heard cries for help, saw the victims and called 911.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., members of the Fontana Sheriff’s Station, along with Sheriff’s helicopter 40King4, with a crew of Pilot Corporal Jon Anderson and Pilot Jim Landry, were dispatched to search for the victims. When Anderson and Landry arrived on scene, they located all four victims on the cliff at the approximately 8700 foot level.

Martha was stuck with her back against the cliff, unable to move. The crew decided a pick-off rescue hoist was necessary, and contacted Sheriff’s Air Rescue 306, with a crew of Pilot Deputy Ryan Conner, Crew Chief Sergeant Daniel Futscher, SBCFD Captain Jack Dejong, SBCFD FFPM Mike Demoff and Air Medic Jerry Modlin to respond to the location.

The crew of Air Rescue 306 rigged for a pick-off hoist and responded to the location. Once on scene, Conner brought the helicopter into a hover approximately 200 feet above Martha in order to keep the rotor wash from pushing her off the cliff. Futscher lowered Demoff on the hoist down until he was within a few feet of her. Conner then slowly moved the helicopter until Demoff came into contact with Martha and immediately placed a Hasty Harness around her. As soon as the harness was affixed, Martha and Demoff grabbed ahold of each other, and they were safely hoisted up 200’ into the aircraft. Conner, Futscher and Demoff repeated the same process for Joshua and Hugo, who were also stuck within 10’ of where the crew located Martha.

All three were then transported the Cow Canyon Saddle and released to Deputy Matt King, of the Fontana Station, as well as a waiting medical personnel.

The Sheriff’s Department would like to remind hikers to stay on trail while hiking in the local mountains.



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