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Stranded Hikers Cited for Engaging in 'Unsafe Recreation Activities'

State parks rangers wrote four men from Long Beach tickets.

The four hikers who got stranded at Malibu Creek State Park this weekend were sited by park rangers for "unsafe recreation activities." Patch file photo.
The four hikers who got stranded at Malibu Creek State Park this weekend were sited by park rangers for "unsafe recreation activities." Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 3:40 p.m. March 2, 2014. 

Four hikers from Long Beach who stranded overnight in a remote area of Malibu Creek State Park, then helicoptered out in what authorities called an extremely dangerous operation, were cited today for engaging in unsafe recreation activities.

California State Parks rangers wrote up tickets for the four, three men and a woman all in their mid-20s, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker.

The quartet went hiking despite flash flood warnings and got trapped on rocks between several rain-swollen canyons, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Roland Sprewell said.

The call came in around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, but a helicopter dispatched to the scene initially was unable to reach the hikers.

The hikers, who were stranded on a boulder surrounded by raging water, were finally able to connect with rescuers shortly after 3 a.m. and then were airlifted to safety, Parker said.

"One of the rescuers said it was one of the most dangerous and hair- raising (operations) he has been on," Parker said.

Some of the rescuers suffered the early effects of hypothermia, he said, adding that they had to hike, climb and even use rubber rafts to make their way to the hikers and then back out again.

The hikers were identified as Savun Chhath, 25; Jonathan Lucero, 26; Janette Recinos, 25; and Billy Chum, 25, according to Parker, who called their decision to venture into the park on such a rainy day "an extremely bad idea."

He said there are more than 550 search and rescue operations in Los Angeles County each year, and "many of them are based on people making bad decisions."

Social media has only fueled the problem as people share images of dangerous activities, encouraging some of those who view them to try their own luck, Parker said.

He also said cell phones give people a false sense of security because they believe they will be able to call for help despite terrain that blocks signals and causes batteries to drain quickly as the devices search for a connection.

The rescue of the hikers in Malibu Creek State Park was complicated as their cell phone batteries began to lose power and they had to resort to texting information on their whereabouts.

--City News Service


catch22 March 03, 2014 at 01:46 AM
I was hiking yesterday with two friends in Malibu Creek State Park when we saw those idiots crossing the river. While we were dressed for the weather in rain proof gear, and on higher ground, they were in shorts and soaked sweatshirts, already crossing a rapids area. I told a friend, I thought in a couple of hours they'd need rescuing. I guess I was right.
Susan Zookeeper March 03, 2014 at 04:27 AM
Why on earth wasn't the park closed? Nobody needed to be in there with the storm that was coming. Nobody.
gracee arthur March 03, 2014 at 10:12 AM
They should pay for the cost of the entire rescue effort.
Jill Nani March 03, 2014 at 01:15 PM
"Your tax dollars at work."
John March 03, 2014 at 04:01 PM
Our tax dollars pay for all kinds of stupid thing so this is just a drop in the bucket, not to mention these guys get paid training so just chalk it up to training. I am glad that they got fined though. Good call on that.

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