A teenage hiker said Tuesday he was down to his last drops of water as he waited for rescuers on the Pacific Crest Trail in remote Alpine County on Sunday night.
A California Highway Patrol helicopter crew found D’Artagnan Driscoll, 18, of Apache Junction, Ariz., on Monday, roughly nine hours after he sent a rescue signal from a hand-held GPS device.
“I had about 8 ounces of water left when the California Highway Patrol found me,” Driscoll said, as he traveled Highway 395 on the way back to Arizona. “If I wasn’t dehydrated then, I would have been very soon.”
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Driscoll said he was on a hike to Canada when he ran out of water. He used a cellphone application to find what were supposed to be water sources along the trial, but discovered they had dried out. The hike from Sonora, where he was dropped off on May 2, would have taken three months, he said.
Driscoll set off an SOS signal from his hand-held GPS tracker late Sunday and waited.
At roughly 7:30 a.m. Monday, the Alpine County Sheriff’s Office called Valley Division Air Operations for help finding the person who activated the emergency button.
With latitude and longitude coordinates, pilot Officer Bryan Souza and flight Officer-paramedic Greg Norrgard lifted off from Auburn Municipal Airport. After a 35-minute flight to Alpine County, the crew searched and found Driscoll around 9 a.m.
He scampered into the open area beyond the tree line where Souza landed at the edge of a cliff. Norrgard spoke with Driscoll, who was loaded into the helicopter and flown to Alpine County Airport. Driscoll did not require hospitalization.
Driscoll initially began his hike on the Pacific Crest Trail near the California-Mexico border on April 29. But he quickly discovered the water sources in Southern California were dry, so he had his parents pick him up.
Hoping the state’s northern areas had more water, he was dropped off May 2 in Sonora, where he expected to continue the journey to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. Driscoll was found about 30 miles from the Alpine County town of Markleeville.
The Arizona man, who has starred in one independent film, aspires to become an actor. Driscoll said he decided to hike the trail at the urging of his father.
“It seemed like a fun experience,” Driscoll said. “To my surprise, this trail was very rugged and difficult.”
Call The Bee’s Richard Chang at (916) 321-1018. Follow him on Twitter @RichardYChang.