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CA: Hunter found after night in woods

October 26, 2010

Hunter found after night in woods

Jay Sarina calls out friends and finds his father

A 71-year-old man survived a stormy night in the woods near Big Flat before being rescued Monday morning.

The last day of hunting season had drawn Bob Sarina and Kenny Wells, also 71, out to try to bag a deer Sunday.

The local men got separated early Sunday afternoon, and Sarina wasn't found until around 9:30 a.m. Monday. A Coast Guard helicopter airlifted him out of the woods at 11:45 a.m.

He is the father of Jay Sarina, Del Norte County's chief administrative officer.

If it wasn't for his son and a few friends of his, Bob Sarina might have died, according to Del Norte County Sheriff's Commander Bill?Steven.

Jay Sarina credited friends he had called at 4 a.m. Monday for finding his father.

"The guys that came in, they put out a hell of an effort, they went out there and risked their lives too," he said.

Sarina said his father was still at Sutter Coast Hospital at 5 p.m. Monday, being treated for hypothermia and "getting pretty beat up from walking all night and sleeping on the ground."

Bob Sarina "will be fine and should be coming home tonight," Jay Sarina said.

Bob Sarina and Well left Sunday morning on the hunting expedition.

At about 1 p.m., Sarina got out of the vehicle they were in near Muzzleloader Creek, according to Steven.

Sarina planned to walk up toward the creek, then down Jones Creek along a ridge, Steven said, adding the plan was for Wells to pick Sarina up at the end of the road.

"He decided to hit the brush and follow the ridge," said Steven.

The men had two-way radios and were in contact with each other.

By 6 p.m., Sarina had gotten lost and Wells was attempting to get him back to the road by radio, Sarina.

The weather worsened, with wind, thunder, lightning and heavy rain.

At 8 p.m., the two had lost contact after their batteries died.

"Just before the battery died, he said he was going to try and get to Jones Creek, and then follow it up to the bridge," said Steven.

As it turned out, "he was a few miles from the bridge," said Terry?McNamara, Del Norte Search and Rescue coordinator.

Steven said Wells was on the phone with authorities at 8 p.m. and said he thought Search and Rescue wasn't needed, but Steven called the rescue workers out anyway.

Because Sarina had his rifle with him, as did Wells, Steven said rescuers fired off shots in hopes of hearing a return shot.

"We heard one, but it was way too far off," said Steven.

"We had some good signs with some of the shots fired, we knew he was able to hear us and fire off a few rounds," said Jay Sarina.

Steven said Search and Rescue workers suspended their search due to the inclement weather, with plans to resume at daylight.

Steven said he and Jay Sarina stayed out searching the brush until 4 a.m. They went to the nearby Stevens family ranch to sleep after Sarina called his friends for help.

"We were up by 6 a.m.," said Steven.

Sarina, Steven and the newly arrived men slogged back out in the weather and in and out of Jones Creek.

Another shot was fired, and Bob Sarina answered with a shot of his own.

One of the men made his way "like a mountain goat" up an embankment and found Sarina, "pale and not moving" said Steven.

By the time the other men arrived, Sarina was talking, Steven said.

A few hours later the Coast Guard helicopter had lifted him out.

A guardsman was "lowered down, he strapped him in (with) a bear-hug and they were gone," said Steven.

"He never carries too much ammo - but he will probably will now," Steven said of Bob Sarina.

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