Rescued Hikers on Potrero John

by Tyler Suchman on January 18, 2010

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

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Suza January 19, 2010 at 8:02 am

There have been many tragic drownings during creek crossings over the years. You can be swept away by the force of the raging water even when crossing on top of heavy equipment. … Please take this warning seriously!


mk January 19, 2010 at 8:05 am

just go surfing…


mt January 19, 2010 at 8:37 am

Potrero John Falls
I guess these three guys were up for an adventure, and able to handle it! Megumi and I got washed away in the surf and rocks once, at beautiful Coromandel in New Zealand … with backpacks and all … not too smart.
our whole Boy Scout troop, in 1968, got lost in the Sespe for nearly a day … kind of lost the trail … had many families waiting for us at a midday barbecue at the end of our 50 mile trek … we bushwhacked our way down canyons, arriving half a day late, in the evening, while the Seabees were out looking for us, and when they did find us treated us to a meal in the Cafeteria at their base in Rose Valley …


Jim January 19, 2010 at 11:58 am

Sure glad these guys made it out, but what were they thinking? How about their parents? It’s not like the storm was a surprise, and anybody from around here with half a brain knows the canyons are deadly when it pours. I just hope they and others learn from this. They’re lucky John was looking out for them.


Cara January 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Doesn’t anybody listen to NOAA or the NWS before they go hiking? This happens over and over and our taxes pay for it. For a week at least they’ve been telling us several powerful winter storms were going to hit.


judy k January 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Lesson–and its a BIG one! always check the weather forecast before venturing out into any wilderness! Nobody can beat Mother Nature!


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