A California search and rescue team came to the aid of 10 missing hikers in the “Last Chance” area of an Upper Ojai canyon thanks to an Apple emergency feature.
Members of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team were first alerted to the hikers at around 8 p.m. local time on May 12, according to a news release. The hikers, who were in the Santa Paula Canyon, had used Apple’s Emergency SOS feature on an iPhone to send a text message which contained what the search and rescue team described as “valuable information,” including their possible location.
The SOS feature enables your iPhone to call a local emergency number, and share location information. On some iPhone models, the feature works via satellite to text emergency services even when the phone is not connected to cellular data or Wi-Fi.
Guardians for the hikers, who were late to their return, also contacted sheriff’s deputies to report the subjects as missing and possibly in need of assistance.
The Santa Paula Canyon trail is a six-mile hike in Ventura County, with an elevation gain of more than 3,700 feet. A local hiking website describes the terrain as rugged and difficult. The “Last Chance” portion of the canyon is a trail that connects the Santa Paul Canyon section to another hiking path, and has another high elevation gain. The “Last Chance” trail is about seven miles long.
Thirteen members of the search and rescue team arrived at the Santa Paula Canyon trailhead at around 8:30 p.m. local time, the sheriff’s office said. The team hiked about four miles into the canyon, where they found the hikers.
Conditions were not ideal, the sheriff’s office said: Rescuers faced low visibility, crossed multiple streams and dealt with trails that had been damaged by heavy rain.
At about 11:15 p.m., the team found the missing hikers. Most of them were “not prepared for the hike,” and were provided with food, drinking water and lighting equipment by the rescue team. At about 2:40 a.m., the rescue team and the hikers reached the end of the trailhead, where they reunited with their guardians.
The hikers did not need medical aid, the sheriff’s office said.
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