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Searchers comb desert caves for missing hiker

State Parks

ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK, Calif. -- Authorities searched Tuesday for a San Diego man who disappeared while exploring East County desert caves over the weekend.

Guillermo Pino, 26, disappeared shortly after noon on Sunday during a visit with friends and family to the Arroyo Tapiado in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, sheriff's Lt. Jeff Maxin said. The area is in the southern part of the park, about 4.5 miles down a dirt road and up a desert canyon on a jeep trail.  

Pino apparently got lost after separating from the group and venturing off by himself into the network of dirt tunnels and caves that run through hillsides and bluffs in the rugged area, according to Maxin. They reported him missing several hours later.

Searchers began going through the remote site on foot and aboard a helicopter that evening, then continued the effort Monday and Tuesday morning, Maxin said. Taking part in the operation were deputies, state rangers, U.S. Border Patrol trackers and cave-searching specialists from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

There was no sign of Pino, who was not believed to be an experienced hiker, as of Tuesday afternoon, the lieutenant said.

According to information posted by searchers on the Facebook page Find Guillermo Pino, he was wearing blue jeans, a black and white plaid shirt and no shoes when last seen.

There are more than 20 mud caves in the Arroyo Tapiado, some up to 1,000 feet in length. The area is a popular destination for weekend hikers.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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