Members of the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team were paged out late Wednesday afternoon to search for four hikers requesting assistance.
The two males and two females, all in their late teens and early 20s, were hiking up Mission Canyon looking for a group of natural pools. They were above the area commonly known as Seven Falls when they mistakenly got off on a side canyon. About 6 p.m., the hikers realized they were far from where they thought they should be.
They did not have lights and ran out of water when they began experiencing difficulty climbing back down the steep canyon. They decided to call 9-1-1.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department launched one of its helicopters along with its Mountain Rescue Team to search for the hikers.
As nighttime approached, Search and Rescue incident commander Jim Frank contacted the hikers on a cell phone. He coached them through the process of getting a GPS coordinate off their phone, which helped narrow the search area to a point below Mission Falls near Mission Canyon.
Several SAR teams started up the canyon and were soon joined by the Sheriff’s Department copter from the air. As darkness was falling, one of the advanced SAR ground teams located the hikers trying to climb down the canyon.
Other than being slightly dehydrated, all the hikers were determined by SAR EMTs to be able to continue down. For the next couple of hours, SAR personnel assisted the hikers down the canyon, using ropes to belay them down steep rock faces when needed, until they reached the hikers’ cars at the top of Tunnel Road.
— Drew Sugars is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.