Search and rescue at Banner Peak
For The Madera Tribune
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter flies over parts of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains to rescue an injured hiker and the search party last week.
The Madera County Communications Center received a call for service for a male juvenile who had become separated from his group while hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Mount Ritter and Banner Peak.
After summiting Banner Peak, a group of nine hikers descended down the mountain. At some point during the descent, a 14-year-old male became separated. Following an unsuccessful search of the area, a group leader for the hikers was able to find cell service and called 911 for help on Thursday at around 5:15 p.m.
Based on the remote location of the party, Madera County Sheriff Search and Rescue Deputies requested air support from the California Highway Patrol, who deployed helicopter H-40 to the area. Due to high winds, they were unable to search, but landed and made contact with part of the group who had returned to their camp.
Additional resources were deployed to assist with the mission via CAL-OES, including a military helicopter with night vision and FLIR capabilities, along with a fixed wing aircraft with specialized mapping capabilities. Both aircraft searched the mountain late into the night, but were not able to locate the missing teenager.
On Friday, just after 8 a.m., the H-40 helicopter returned to the search area and resumed their efforts. Around 11 a.m., while the H-40 was refueling in Mammoth and picking up two Mono County searchers, Incident Command received a text message from one of the group leaders reporting the possible discovery of the missing teenager. Within minutes, IC received confirmation that the teenage subject was located near Lake Catherine with minor to moderate injuries.
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter was deployed to conduct the rescue of the injured hiker and search party. The party was recovered and flown to Mammoth airport, where the teenager was transferred to an awaiting ambulance and his family.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the members of the public who helped search efforts; their relentless drive to find the teenager was inspiring. Madera County Sheriff Tyson Pogue and his department would also like to thank the Mono County Sheriff’s Office for their role in coordinating searchers and medical aid for the teenager, the California Highway Patrol Air Operations Unit, and the U.S. National Guard for diverting several air assets and responding to our call for assistance.
“This was a high stakes mission that we are so glad to see have a happy ending,” Pogue said. “Extensive coordination is required to make missions like these successful. We are so grateful to our agency partners who, despite stretched resources due to the ongoing wildfires throughout the state, immediately offered their assistance for this rescue.”