Hiker missing overnight in Towsley Canyon is found, airlifted out

A 24-year-old hiker who went missing in Towsley Canyon in Newhall late Monday afternoon has been found and rescued, authorities said.

Brian Napoli was discovered deep in the canyons around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday by a search-team volunteer, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Josh Dubin.   

The hiker's mother, Janet Napoli, said her son, dehydrated but otherwise OK, was airlifted from the area.

“He was smart. He hunkered down for the night,” she said. “He didn’t do too much wandering at night.”

She said her son also used chaparral to cover himself and hide from coyotes.

Brian Napoli was reported missing by family and friends around 4:45 p.m. on Monday after he called on a cell phone to say he was lost, according to the sheriff’s department and Janet Napoli.

Sheriff’s deputies searched the region into the evening before suspending the search until daylight. More than 30 volunteers were on the ground assisting in the search, said Dubin.

Janet Napoli said her son had been taking photos for a fire science class at College of the Canyons in Valencia. She said he managed to post several photos on his Instagram account before his cellphone died.  

“That was the smart thing he did,” she said. “He tried to let [rescuers] know where he was.”

The photos show Napoli standing on top of a canyon with the 118 Freeway behind him at some point. He took photos of a tower and several 360-degree videos of his location, and used hashtags such as "towsleycanyon," "almost died," and "firefighter2b."

Dubin said the photos were helpful, but without a working cellphone it was difficult to find his exact location.

“Ultimately, it was a hiker who heard his voice and spotted him,” Dubin said.

Throughout the search, Janet Napoli had said she was confident they would find her son.

 “He’s going to be found, and he’s going to be OK,” she said minutes before her son was rescued.


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