Missing Irvine mountain biker found near Ortega Highway

Rescuers on Thursday afternoon found a 40-year-old Irvine man who declined to tell authorities how or why he disappeared after a mountain biking trip near San Juan Capistrano the day before.

James Kretzschmar’s wife called Irvine police just before midnight Wednesday to say she hadn’t heard from Kretzschmar for hours, police said.

He had told her he wanted to go biking in the canyons off Ortega Highway, she told authorities.

Overnight, Orange County sheriff’s deputies found Kretzschmar’s car in a parking lot for the Lazy W Ranch campground near the highway and began searching for him.

A helicopter and at least 20 ground personnel scoured the area for hours, sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock said.

At about 1 p.m., searchers heard a man calling for help and discovered Kretzschmar in Lyon Canyon, which is in the Cleveland National Forest about five miles from the San Juan Fire Station on Ortega Highway, where crews had set up a command post.

“Kretzschmar refused to indicate to investigators whether he became lost or the reason for needing to be located by search and rescue personnel,” Hallock said.

Paramedics evaluated Kretzschmar and released him. Crews escorted him and his bike out of the area on foot, Hallock said.

— Jeremiah Dobruck

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck