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Mariposa Couple Rescued After Lost Five Days In Forest

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Mariposa County, CA – A Mariposa couple that went missing after heading out to cave-explore in the forest had to be rescued.

On Monday, June 10th, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office received a report from family members of two overdue individuals, 34-year-old Leah Bernard and 38-year-old Daren Daniels, who began their hike on June 7th. A search and rescue team was called in with deputies and drones, searching the roads and area. CHP Helicopter H42 was also in the air due to the steep, hot, and thick brush on the ground as the search continued overnight.

Sheriff’s officials relayed, “Daren’s wallet was found on Schilling Road by a resident. Cell pings were initiated on their phones. Family members were able to inform us of some approximate cell coordinates of where the couple may have been headed.”

The next day, Tuesday, June 11, a Search and Rescue (SAR) 4×4 team and several SAR members walked the area on foot. Bernard got a cell signal and called 911, and searchers were able to locate her exact location between Quartz Mountain and the North Fork drainage, as she and Daniels had separated.

SAR and drone operations continued into the night around the Quartz Mountain and the Merced River drainage areas. Daniels could also text his family for help, indicating he was at the convergence of Merced and the North Fork. At approximately 10:45 p.m., he was located after hiking off Quartz Mountain and hitting the Merced River trail. Both Bernard and Daniels were extremely dehydrated, but neither required extensive medical treatment, according to rescuers.

This incident serves as a reminder to be prepared when heading into the forest by creating an itinerary, consulting trail guides, and staying on trails to ensure safety.

“Anytime we can bring people home safely, it is a great day. With essentially two searches going on simultaneously, this is a great example of quick reporting, quick response, and multiple agencies working together to serve our communities. I can’t say enough great things about our Search and Rescue team and the Sheriff’s Office staff that coordinate that program. It is always such a great feeling to have a positive outcome in such unknown circumstances,” stated Sheriff Jeremy Briese.

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