[Editor's Note: The following is a press release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.]
The Los Angeles County sheriff's Malibu Search and Rescue Team (SAR) located three lost and stranded hikers after a grueling seven-hour overnight operation that started late Thursday night in a remote area near the Rindge Dam.
The rescue was wrapped up by 5:30 a.m. Friday, July 20. Five friends were hiking in the Rindge Dam area 600 feet below Malibu Canyon Road, Malibu, when they became separated.
Two members of the hiking party, using the unmaintained trails, were able to make their way out of the canyon. They then called 911 to report the three lost hikers to Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff's Station deputies.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Malibu Search and Rescue Team, accompanied by Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) personnel, responded to the scene. An LACoFD helicopter scouted the area and determined that an air evacuation would be too dangerous in darkness.
Leaving the lost and stranded hikers overnight in the deep canyon was not an option, therefore, the Sheriff's Malibu Search and Rescue team set up a technical rope retrieval system.
Four Malibu S & R team members remained on Malibu Canyon Road to operate the equipment while eight Malibu S & R team members, as well as four LACoFD personnel deployed rapelling over the side of the Malibu Canyon Road.
A 19-year-old woman and 26-year-old man, both from Hollywood, and a 22-year-old West Hollywood man, were winched from the canyon floor to a stable area in the canyon and escorted by team members hiked to safety.
The trio were met by LACoFD rescue paramedics, who after an evaluation, determined the two men were uninjured. The woman had suffered a knee and ankle injury and will seek her own medical treatment.
The 7-hour gruelling and dangerous rescue operation that took place in the darkness came to a positive conclusion at 5:30 Friday morning.
Sheriff's Reserve Sergeant David Katz, Malibu Search and Rescue Team, said “Members of this hiking party were able to seek help, were safely rescued, and only one of the five hikers suffered an injury. However, others have not been so fortunate. Sadly, during the last six months, Malibu Search and Rescue Team members have responded to the dam on two other occasions, each time retrieving the body of a hiker who had suffered fatal injuries.”