A 50-year-old hiker who was reported missing Saturday was found dead at the base of a cliff on El Cajon Mountain, a sheriff’s official said Sunday.
Thomas Mark Castiglia had met up with a group of hikers around 8:30 a.m. Saturday near El Monte County Park, San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Rich Williams said.
The group, some of whom had apparently connected through an online meetup forum, planned to trek El Cajon Mountain via the south route, with an ultimate destination of Lunch Rock, Williams said.
But around 10:40 a.m., Castiglia began falling behind the group and told the others to carry on without him, Williams said. He told the group he was going on an offshoot trail, but by 2:45 p.m., neither the other hikers nor Castiglia’s wife had heard from him. The other hikers reported him missing.
“Castiglia is an experienced hiker and has no known medical conditions,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
A sheriff’s helicopter began searching for Castiglia, and a search-and-rescue team was dispatched to the “really rugged terrain,” Williams said.