From the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department / Aviation-SAR Unit…
On 1-16-10, Jonathan Fulthorpe and Dylan Beckett went hiking and camping on the Potrero John Trail. They had planned to camp until Tuesday, 1-19-10, at which time they would hike out and be picked up by Dylan’s grandfather, John Beckett.
Today, 1-18-10, John Beckett decided that the camping trip should be cut short due to the incoming weather conditions. He drove to the trailhead and hiked up the trail to the camp. Once there, he told Dylan and Jonathan that staying the extra day was a bad idea and they should pack up and leave right away. Dylan and Jonathan agreed and broke down camp immediately.
On the hike out of the canyon, the trail crossed the river. The river had risen, but the group decided to cross anyway. All three of them were swept downstream in the river and separated. Jonathan managed to get out of the river after several attempts, but could not locate John or Dylan. He hiked out of the canyon and flagged down a passing Caltrans vehicle. The Caltrans employee called the Sheriff’s Department and reported the incident. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department sent it’s rescue helicopter, Copter 6, and a patrol deputy to the location.
Meanwhile, after several attempts, John and Dylan managed to get out of the river too. Shortly after getting out, a major mudslide roared through the canyon and wiped out the trail. In addition, large amounts of debris clogged the canyon and blocked any attempt for them to hike out. They decided to hike east and over a ridge to the next canyon in an attempt to get to Highway 33, which was still about one mile away.
Copter 6 arrived on scene and began a search of the canyon. They located the campground and the freshly used fire pit. Then, after a brief search, located a sleeping bag where the trail was washed away. Copter 6 continued their search and located Dylan on a ridge. The helicopter was able to hover next to the ridge top and load Dylan on board. Dylan then directed the helicopter to his grandfather, John, who was in the bottom of the canyon east of Potrero John. Both Dylan and John were flown to a landing area near the trailhead where they were evaluated and released. The hikers were all tired and cold, but none of them were injured in the incident.
The Sheriff’s Department would like to remind everyone that participating in outdoor activities during times of severe weather is a bad idea. Flash floods, mudslides and debris runoff from recent burn areas create huge dangers. Please use caution and avoid these danger areas.
John Beckett, Ojai, 60
Dylan Beckett, Ventura, 17
Jonathan Fulthorpe, Ventura, 17