The wife of a mountain bicyclist who died after he got lost in the Santa Ana Mountains last weekend said she was angry with the Riverside County Sheriff’s officials for delaying rescue efforts amid extreme weather.
“I don’t think they made the right choice,” Christyna Arista, 33, said in an interview with the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
On Saturday morning, Arista’s 34-year-old husband, Andres Marin, left his Corona home for an 18-mile bike ride as a heavy storm system moved into Southern California.
She said it was her husband’s birthday and he had been planning the ride for two weeks and did not want to postpone it.
Meanwhile, across the Southland, authorities were warning residents about the dangerous conditions associated with the storm.
Arista said her husband called her around 5:30 p.m. saying he was lost and was heading down the mountain, but didn’t think he could make it. She told the Press-Enterprise that her husband’s speech was slow, and he had difficulty answering questions. He also told her he had fallen.
Riverside County Sheriff's Lt. Zach Hall said in a statement that a search for Marin was initiated at 5:45 p.m., but that the extreme weather, rough terrain and other unsafe conditions prevented rescue teams from making their way up the trail that Marin had taken. The weather also prohibited the use of a helicopter and motorized vehicles.
Hall also said they could not pinpoint’s Marin’s exact location using cellular network towers. The department decided to wait until Sunday morning to resume searching .
Unwilling to wait, Christyna Arista, 33, an experienced hiker, told the Press-Enterprise she set out to look for her husband with the help of other family members.
Marin was later discovered at 10 a.m. Sunday on North Main Divide Road in an Orange County portion of the Cleveland National Forest.
Arista said her husband's body was found in a seated position on his mountain bike, leaning against the side of a hill. His arms were on the handlebars, feet on the pedals. His body was purple.
While official results from an autopsy were still pending, Arista said she believes her husband froze to death.
His bicycle now sits on a makeshift memorial at their Corona home.