Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team members Don Gordon and Craig Scott weren't sure if the woman they were looking for would be alive after being missing for nine days in the Sierra National Forest, but miraculously she was.
Miyuki Harwood, of Orangevale, was found alive Aug. 28, in the Sierra National Forest near Fresno after being missing for nine days. Harwood, who suffered broken legs, survived by drinking filtered creek water and using a whistle to lead rescuers to her location. Gordon and Scott were searching in the area near where Harwood was found and were able to assist in her rescue.
"It was one of the greatest things," said Gordon, who has been with the SBCSAR for four years and lives in Santa Barbara. "To have such a positive outcome was amazing."
Craig, who has been with the organization for six years and lives in Solvang, said Harwood was in remarkable condition for someone who had been alone in the wilderness for so long. She was responsive and even knew what day it was when the team found her.
"It's definitely one of the most fulfilling rescues I've done," Craig said.
Craig and Gordon agreed that Hardwood finding water and shelter immediately along with having a whistle to blow to lead people to her was instrumental to her rescue. However, they said, ideally it's best to not go hiking alone and to have a map of the area that you're visiting. Craig also said that if lost, hikers should stay put until they're found, rather than trying to self-rescue.
SBCSAR is an all-volunteer mountain search and rescue team under the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. As part of the statewide mutual aid system, SBCSAR is frequently requested to assist other counties for lost individuals in wilderness areas.
SBCSAR is currently recruiting for new members. An information session is slated for 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at SBCSAR headquarters, 66 N. San Antonio Road, in Santa Barbara. For more information, visit the team’s website at www.sbcsar.org or its Facebook page under Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue.