LOCAL : Burbank Man, Son Found Safe After Being Stranded in Dunes

From Times Staff and wire service reports

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies found a Burbank man and his 10-year-old son this morning, a day after the Jeep in which they were riding became stuck in a river bed in a rugged undeveloped area near Val Verde.

William Hancock, 37, and his son, Michael, were cold but uninjured when spotted at 7:40 a.m. by a helicopter flying above the Santa Clara River in Indian Dunes, Sgt. Michael Watner said.

Watner said Hancock had picked his son up at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at his former wife's home in Val Verde for a few hours of off-road riding in the Jeep. Hancock and the boy spent about three hours driving along dirt roads in the rugged surrounding areas before becoming stuck when attempting to cross the riverbed, Watner said.

Hancock later said that the Jeep sank in mud and water up to the exhaust pipe and that the engine stalled.

At 4 p.m. Hancock hiked out of the area to a phone in a campground and called his girlfriend, leaving a message on her tape machine that he was stuck in a creek bed, Watner said.

The Hancocks were not spotted until after daylight this morning, Watner said.

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