Lost Hikers Found Safe on Mountain : Rescue: O.C. woman, 37, and 11-year-old boy survived 2 days of freezing cold and 100-m.p.h. winds on Mt. Baldy. Woman remains hospitalized; boy is released.
A 37-year-old woman and an 11-year-old boy, lost and trapped in a sudden snowstorm while hiking atop Mt. Baldy, were rescued and in good condition Sunday after surviving two days in subfreezing temperatures and knifing, 100-m.p.h. winds.
Authorities said that young Ryan McIntosh and his hiking companion, Cynthia Moyneur, both of Orange County, suffered frostbite to their feet but otherwise appeared healthy.
Ryan, who lives near Santa Ana, was released from San Antonio Hospital in Upland shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, said nursing supervisor Joanne Tarbell. Moyneur was expected to remain in the hospital at least until today. Tarbell said Moyneur was listed in satisfactory condition, suffering from frostbite and hypothermia as well as several scrapes and bruises.
The dramatic rescue came just as the boy’s family seemed on the verge of giving up hope.
“My son is alive, a son I didn’t think was alive for several hours,” said John McIntosh, Ryan’s father. “It is because of the Mt. Baldy . . . team.”
As she stroked her son’s forehead Sunday afternoon at San Antonio Hospital’s emergency room, the boy’s mother, Barbara McIntosh, confided, “I’m shocked that they found him alive.”
In addition to frostbite, Ryan McIntosh was said to have suffered from exposure, and both hikers were described as exhausted after spending much of their 43-hour ordeal pacing so they would not fall asleep and freeze in temperatures as low as 13 degrees with a subzero chill factor.
According to his mother, Ryan said: “Cindy saved my life. . . . She’s pretty cool.”
Ryan and Moyneur--the girlfriend of the boy’s uncle--were descending from the summit of Mt. Baldy--formally known as San Antonio Mountain and also called Old Baldy Peak-- when they were pinned down by a sudden storm Friday night that quickly dropped 8 inches of snow.
Authorities said the pair kept themselves alive by building a windbreak of snow to shelter them from the wind. They had also carried a thermal blanket on the hike that they used to protect themselves.
Although they had little in the way of survival gear, Moyneur had matches that she was able to use late Friday to start a camp fire that ultimately aided search and rescue teams in pinpointing their location. They were at about the 8,000- or 9,000-foot level, short of the 10,064foot summit of Mt. Baldy.
Search helicopters spotted the fire in the darkness early Saturday, but high winds, rugged terrain and extreme weather prevented the nine teams of rescuers with about 60 individual searchers from reaching the location until Sunday morning. Even then, searchers were reduced at times to a literal crawl because of the ferocious winds.
The hikers were finally saved from the north slope of Mt. Baldy just west of Dawson Peak.
“God’s still in the miracle business,” San Bernardino County Sheriff Capt. John Futscher said after the rescue. “But he uses people.”
“This morning the wind broke and (a) helicopter saw footprints in the snow,” Futscher said.
Members of the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue team that first reached the stranded hikers also had spent the previous night on the mountain.
Both hikers’ fathers, Raymond Moyneur and John McIntosh, praised the efforts of the joint rescue operation that combined search personnel from San Bernardino, San Diego and Los Angeles counties.
McIntosh urged the public to donate money to help fund the various rescue crews involved in the effort.
“Send a dollar; it may save your life someday,” he said.
While on the mountain, Cynthia Moyneur kept her young companion’s spirits up by explaining the steps they needed to take in order to stay alive until searchers found them, authorities said.
But when she was safe at last in a hospital bed, Moyneur confided to her father: “Dad, at one point I didn’t know if I could make it.”
Moyneur, who lives in Anaheim, and Ryan, who lives near Santa Ana, had set out about 1 p.m. Friday to hike the approximately 2 miles from the Mt. Baldy ski lift with her boyfriend, Chris Jordan of Yorba Linda, Jordan’s two daughters and another girl, who is a family friend.
But before reaching the top, the three girls became tired and returned to the ski lift with Jordan. Moyneur and Ryan pushed on toward the summit.
After reaching the peak, Moyneur took a wrong turn on what she thought was the trail back to the ski lift.
Moyneur suffered cuts while gathering wood for a camp fire that first night, Futscher said.
The fire burned into Saturday but was extinguished when Moyneur mistakenly thought rescuers were near. Her remaining matches had become too damp to relight the fire, he said.
On Saturday, Moyneur attempted to signal circling helicopters with a mirror and by waving her arms, but authorities said the high winds prevented the aircraft from flying low enough to see them.
Officials credited Moyneur with knowing the right things to do, such as preserving her strength by setting up a camp and by using a windbreak to protect herself and Ryan from the extreme conditions.
Moyneur, a physical therapist, jogger and avid cyclist, was described as very knowledgeable about hypothermia. But she also was wearing only calf-length spandex pants and a thin jacket, authorities said. Ryan wore a jacket, jeans, T-shirt and sweat shirt. In addition, they had the thermal blanket.
Just moments before rescuers found the hikers Sunday morning about 11 a.m., sheriff’s deputies briefed reporters at the Mt. Baldy Fire Department and tried to paint an optimistic picture.
“When you get to the top of Baldy and clouds come in it’s very easy to lose your way,” Assistant Mt. Baldy Fire Chief Gary Wilson said.
Wilson announced that a helicopter crew had spotted footprints in the snow, but he said it was was not known if the tracks belonged to the missing hikers or if they may have been left by any of the numerous recreational hikers who had trekked onto the slopes that day.
Wilson had just left reporters when a buzz of excitement charged through the makeshift command post set up in the middle of Mt. Baldy Village. The word was that the hikers had been found and were apparently well.
A procession of emergency personnel, television cameras and curious onlookers scurried in autos and trucks to a turnout on narrow Glendora Ridge Road, where a large sheriff’s medical evacuation helicopter had set down. Moments later, a smaller search and rescue helicopter carrying the hikers landed a few feet away on a precipice overlooking a sheer drop into a mountain canyon.
Ryan McIntosh was carried from the small aircraft and placed in a stretcher, but Cynthia Moyneur walked with help from a deputy to her stretcher. As she lay in the stretcher being secured for the flight to San Antonio Hospital, Moyneur’s father knelt over her head and clapped his hands in joy.
Later Raymond Moyneur said his daughter looked at him and said in the nonchalant way she always has, “Hi, dad.”
As the helicopter lifted off the mountain carrying his daughter and Ryan to the Upland hospital, Moyneur told reporters: “This is the greatest moment of my life, to have her back.”
* RESCUERS REJOICE: Volunteers endured ordeal before finding lost hikers. A12