Search & Rescue Responds to Lost Dirt Bikers Along Sisquoc River
Source: Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue (SBCSAR)
At approximately 10 pm on Sunday, June 19, 2022, SBCSAR was paged by the County Emergency Dispatch Center regarding the receipt of an S.O.S. distress signal along the Sisquoc River just West of South Fork in the San Rafael Wilderness of them stating they were out of water and needed help.
Due to the remoteness and unknown nature of their emergency request, two rescue members of SBCSAR were transported by a helicopter with the County’s Air Support Unit to the last known GPS coordinates given by the subjects S.O.S signal. Upon arriving in the area, the pilots using their night vision equipment spotted lights down in the river bed approximately 1.5 miles West of the South Fork Ranger Station. Landing near the subjects, SBCSAR and ASU personnel met up with four subjects that had started out earlier in the day to ride their OHV motorcycles along the Sierra Madre Road. Along the way, the riders decided to take a single-track trail down from the dirt road into the San Rafael Wilderness area. Unable to ride back up the steep trail they had come down, the four riders pressed forward up the river with the intent of accessing another trail on a map they had in their phone but continued to run into difficult terrain that slowed their progress. Having used the last of their water in the early afternoon, and facing a night out in the wilderness without any provisions, they activated their S.O.S. beacon.
SBCSAR and ASU personnel confirmed all the riders were in good condition and without any medical conditions other than being thirsty. The riders were not wanting to leave their motorcycles and declined any further assistance. Water and energy bars were given along with instructions on the best route to try and ride their motorcycles out of the wilderness area. The rescue personnel departed the area and returned to Santa Ynez Airport to debrief and return to the station.
Please be prepared for the unexpected and have a map to help guide you on your adventure and also know your boundaries, both mentally and physically. Please note that motorized vehicles are prohibited in the wilderness areas of our national forest and violators can be cited by law enforcement personnel.
Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue is a professional, all volunteer and unpaid 501(c)3 organization that is community supported by generous giving to provide services to the County of Santa Barbara under the direction of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. To learn about supporting SBCSAR, please visit our website or reach out to us.