Family rescued from Pacific Crest Trail after 10-year-old became ill

A Sunnyvale family of four sought rescue from the Truckee Fire Department and California Highway Patrol when their youngest child became ill from altitude sickness and could not walk out.

Father Kent Johnson and mother Patricia Johnson were on a multi-day backpacking trip with their two daughters on the Pacific Crest Trail near Paradise Lake on Thursday June 23 when Adele, the younger of the two, became nauseous. Adele had backpacked many times before, but this was the first time she had come down with altitude sickness, Kent Johnson said.

Recognizing Adele would not be able to make the hike out, Kent Johnson left his family Friday at dawn and hiked out for four hours. He then drove to the Truckee ranger station, which called California Highway Patrol helicopter 24. Heading out later that morning in search of the family, the helicopter found Patricia Johnson and the two daughters based on coordinates provided by the father.

The helicopter was able to land near the family, and officers provided medical care to Adele. Adele was taken alone to the command post at Truckee Tahoe airport, where she met her father and sought urgent care. Patricia and second daughter Lily were picked up on a second trip.

Officer Matt Calcutt, a pilot with California Highway Patrol, warns anyone who plans to hike or backpack this summer to be prepared for the elements.

“Travel with a map and a compass and know how to use it,” Calcutt said. “Be prepared to treat water with a filter. Know where you’re going.”

Editor’s note: This story was changed June 30 to correct the description of Adele Johnson’s illness and the time that Kent Johnson left his family to seek help.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola