Lost hiker found after search near Scotts Valley

posted Mar 25, 2012, 8:58 AM by Santa Cruz County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team   [ updated Mar 26, 2012, 9:14 PM ]
Posted:   03/23/2012 02:54:36 PM PDT

SCOTTS VALLEY - A search-and-rescue team found a 27-year-old autistic man Thursday night after he disappeared during an evening hike near Scotts Valley.

The man was cold and thirsty but did not have major injuries when he was found about 11 p.m., said Lt. Craig Wilson.

The man was barefoot and clad in only shorts and a T-shirt. Temperatures hit the low 40s.

"He would have had a rough night," Wilson said.

The man's mother was hiking with him in the woods off the 500 block of Glenwood Drive about 7 p.m.

It was not unusual for him to hike without shoes, said Wilson. The area was not far from their home.

She lost track of him. The woman notified authorities that her son was lost about 8:30 p.m.

About that time, the Sheriff's Office volunteer search-and-rescue team was at a class at Cabrillo College. They were called to the scene. They arrived relatively quickly because the team was already assembled, Wilson said.

About 20 people - including volunteers and deputies - started the search with two tracking dogs. The team started on Glenwood Drive and went east.

They scoured about 40 acres of thick forest toward Highway 17.

About 11 p.m., a volunteer's search dog, Kai, spotted the man. He alerted rescuers.

The man - whose name was not released by authorities - initially did not respond when authorities called to him.

He was standing in a thicket of trees about 200 yards from Highway 17 about 3/4 mile from his home.

Initially, he was attracted to the dog who found him. He was happy to be found, Wilson said.

It was not clear how he became lost. The man had minor injuries but did not go to the hospital.

"The young man was cold and hungry, but otherwise in good condition," according to Wilson.

Deputies said the same man was involved in a similar search about 10 years ago.

Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter on Twitter @sbaxter_sc.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team,
Mar 26, 2012, 9:14 PM