Marin County Sheriff's Office
Search & Rescue

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Novato Airplane search 12/26/2003

Marin SAR responded to the Wildhorse Valley area of Novato after the Sheriff’s Communications Center received five calls for a low flying airplane in distress. SAR team members and deputies investigated the reports, checked with the AFRCC and used direction finding equipment to find for further leads. It was determined that there was no indication the plane had crashed and units were released.

Contra Costa Mutual aid 12/17/2003

Marin SAR was started for Martinez for a missing Allzheimer’s patient in the early morning hours. At 4AM, Contra Costa SAR located the subject and we were cancelled.

Woodacre Search 12/16/2003

Twenty-seven Marin SAR members responded for a missing 16 y.o. mountain biker who did not return home after splitting up with friends and riding off by herself just before nightfall. Deputies, Fairfax Police, Water District and Openspace Rangers, local firefighters, family and friends also joined the search. At about 10:30 PM she was located on the B-17 trail, a popular mountain bike trail on the Boy Scout preserve, by friends of the family in contact with the command post. She stopped moving because she did not have a light and could not see after it became dark.

Samuel P Taylor State Park Search. 10/26/2003

Twenty-eight Marin SAR members and seven California Rescue Dog K-9 teams responded for a missing camper who was last seen late Friday night, camped illegally in his van at the group camp ground at Devils Gulch. Teams where deployed on trail and area search assignments in a large radius around the campsite. The search area was a steep canyon with dense forest with some open grasslands. About two hours into the search, was ground team being picked up by deputies located the subject about ½ mile from the point last seen (PLS). He had heard teams calling his name, but was too weak to respond, so he slowly walked down the hill toward the calls. He was dehydrated, fatigued, disoriented and hungry. He said he was on a spiritual enlightenment quest. He said he had no training or experience in the outdoors and had been out for about 36 hours before being found.

Day 2 10/23/2003

An additional twelve Marin SAR members joined SAR teams from Napa, CAL-ESAR, Sonoma, Lake and the California Rescue Dog Association at day break. Marin teams were inserted by air with Sonoma Sheriff’s Henry 1 onto surrounding ridges. Teams then hiked down several canyons and area searched portions of the lower valley around the PLS. Several clues we’re located, but the effort did not locate the missing subject. Members we’re committed for over 12 hours.

Napa County Mutual Aid Day 1 10/22/2003

At 6 PM Marin responded a seven member management team Thursday night to assist Napa SO SAR in developing plans for a missing despondent man whose car was located on a remote fire road on the S/W side of Mt. St. Helena, above the town of Calistoga. Team members wrote plans for 40 ground searchers that were ordered for the next morning. Napa searched until just after dark, but discontinued further night searching due to the challenging terrain.

Mill Valley Evidence Search 10/18/2003

Nine members responded to assist Sheriff Patrol units in an evidence search in the Strawberry area of Mill Valley. Members logged two hours each on search.

San Rafael evidence search 10/17/2003

Eleven members assisted San Rafael Police in an evidence search in downtown San Rafael. The team was on scene for three hours.

Boy Scout camp rescue 10/11/2003

Six Marin SAR members responded to assist Ross Valley and County Fire units for the rescue of an injured mountain biker on the Wagon Wheel trail near Tamarancho Boy Scout Camp. As members arrived, Sonoma Sheriff’s Henry 1 arrived and short hauled the injured subject off the remote trail. Members assisted with securing the LZ. He was then airlifted to Santa Rosa.

Stinson Beach Search 9/20/2003

Sixteen Marin SAR members and several deputies responded along with mutual aid from CARDA, Bay Area Mountain Rescue, San Mateo SAR and Alameda SAR for a missing hiker whose car was located about 1 mile south of Stinson Beach above Steep Ravine by State Park rangers. The subject had been reported missing several days earlier and was known to be a diabetic and despondent. The terrain varied from rugged shoreline with steep cliffs to rolling hills and dense forest going up 1500 feet in elevation. Five hours into the search, a Marin ground team located the subject deceased about ½ mile away and 400 yards below Hwy. 1, 20 yards off an unmarked trail. There were no signs of trauma or self inflicted injuries. Other assisting agencies included National Parks, State Parks, Stinson Beach Fire, Sheriff’s Air patrol and a CHP helicopter and Airplane.

Novato Airplane crash 9/2/2003

Twenty-three members responded for a search for a downed aircraft on Mt. Burdell in Novato at 0615 in the morning. Responding members joined Novato Fire, Police, CHP and Sheriff’s patrol units in the search after the victim called 911 at 0548, reporting that he had crashed three minutes after take off from Gnoss field in Novato and was injured. A Marin SAR team worked their way down from the top of Mt. Burdell, cross county with direction help from CHP Air 30 and met the victim and a Novato Police officer who a couple of minutes earlier had found the crash after riding a dirt bike and then hiking in from the bottom. A Marin SAR and San Antonio Volunteer Fire team arrived shortly afterward to assist with a carryout if needed. Sonoma Sheriff’s Henry 1 arrived at the same time and was able to short haul the subject out and transport him to a waiting Novato Fire Rescue Unit for transport to Marin General. In spite of significant damage to the plane, the subject sustained only minor injuries. SAR members remained on scene through the day supporting FAA investigators and the salvage crew.

Mono County Mutual aid 8/23/2003

Five Marin SAR members returned to the Sawtooth Range in Mono County for a second push to search for missing backpacker Fred Claassen. One group of Marin SAR members we’re deployed by helicopter with Bay Area Mountain Rescue on a technical team to search areas around Matterhorn Peak. The other team hiked into the Last Known Place (LKP) at Crown Lake with Bay Area Mountain Rescue and Mono County SAR teams. Late Saturday afternoon, a Marin SAR member stepped on a chalk stone that broke, causing him to fall and fracture his lower leg. The Marin SAR member was short hauled out at 10,000 ft. by a Yosemite NPS Helicopter to a Trauma Center in Modesto. He is expected to make a full recovery in several months. We are very grateful to the attending BAMRU and Mono County SAR members and the NPS helicopter crew. No further clues of Fred Claassen where located.

Solano County Mutual Aid 8/17/2003

Marin SAR responded at 5:00 AM to assist Solano Co SAR in the search for a missing 94 y.o. Alzheimer’s patient who walked away from his residence the night before in the town of Rio Vista. Marin SAR along with Contra Costa Co SAR provided a management team and ground searches to cover a wide area around and inside Rio Vista. After an extensive search lasting 18 hours and involving over 100 searchers, 10 dog teams and several aircraft the search went into investigation mode. Several sighting came in the downtown area adjacent to the river and Pier the night he went missing. Other responding agencies and teams included CAL-ESAR, Bay Area Mountain Rescue, Napa Co SAR, CARDA, CHP, The US Coast Guard, Alameda Co SAR, Sacramento Co SAR and Rio Vista Police and Fire Departments. The subject was located four days later deceased, floating in the water off the Main Street Pier.

Napa County mutual aid 8/16/2003

Napa County SO SAR requested teams from Marin and Solano SAR to assist in a wide area evidence search after a recent homicide. Eleven Marin SAR members were deployed for five hours clearing several long sections of creek bed.

Mono County Mutual Aid 8/8/2003

Nine Marin SAR members responded for a high altitude search for a missing 43 y.o. male backpacker who did not return from four day backpacking trip in area of the Sawtooth Range. He left from Twin Lakes, near Bridgeport and his plan took him into the northern part of Yosemite National Park. He was reported overdue and missing on August 4th. On Saturday morning, Marin joined SAR teams from Mono, Inyo, Sierra Madre, San Bernardino, Fresno, and Ventura Counties as well as WOOF, Yosemite Dogs, and CalESAR. Teams were planning to deploy by helicopter, but had to hike into the search area when high winds prevented further deployment by helicopter. Marin joined Ventura and Sierra Madre SAR teams in setting up a spike camp and searching several canyons late Saturday and Sunday morning. The subject was last at Crown Lake onday two of his trip. No clues were located during the five day search effort.

Marin Headlands Search 7/30/2003

Twenty SAR members and six California Rescue Association K-9 teams responded at 6 PM to search for a missing man after his abandoned car was located by State Park Rangers on Hwy.1 above Muir Beach. It appeared all of his belongings were in the car along with a vague note giving his car away to whoever found it. Several witnesses said they saw a man matching the description walking a trail about a mile away who appeared to be in poor condition. Searching was challenging due to high winds, heavy fog and darkness. No further clues were located during the Wednesday night search effort. SAR members conducted further investigation and interviews and determined he likely abandoned his car due to a lack of money and was probably not despondent. No further action.

Mt Tam search 7/13/2003

SAR was started for a missing elderly woman with dementia in the Phoenix Lake who became separated from her husband just prior to night fall. As units were responding she was located several miles away in the town of Ross in good condition.

Hicks Valley Search 7/12/2003

Eleven members responded at 4 AM to assist Deputies and CHP in searching for a missing and possibly despondent woman, whose car was located abandoned with blood inside on Hick’s Valley Road in West Marin. As teams were deploying, she contacted her family by mobile phone from a nearby park. She was transported by deputies to Unit B.

Tennessee Valley Search 7/8/2003

Eighteen SAR members responded to assist Deputies in a search for three missing teenagers, including one with a broken back in a brace in the Tennessee Valley area of the Marin Headlands after nightfall. The three had gone for a hike up a canyon and had not returned. SAR deployed several teams and after a short time made voice contact and found them hung up in dense brush with no flash light. All three were able to walk out and sustained no injuries.

Mt Tam Search 6/18/2003

Twenty three SAR members and several CARDA K-9 teams were started for Hang Glider Site Two for a missing despondent man whose car was located nearby several hours earlier. As members were enroot, a State Park Ranger located the missing subject deceased several hundred yards away.

San Jose abduction search 6/7/2003

Marin SAR was requested to assist in the search for a 9 y.o. girl who was abducted out of her house two days earlier in South San Jose. Marin SAR responded a five person management team the night before to assist Santa Clara SAR in writing plans for a wide area search along the 101 corridor between northern San Benito County to the south and Mt. Hamilton to the south. The next morning, an additional 17 members responded along with mutual aid teams from San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, BAMRU, CARDA San Jose City and Santa Clara. In all, 120 ground searchers were deployed with 8 K-9 teams completing 44 assignments in 10 hours. Later the same night, her abductor released her about 30 miles away. After reviewing the incident, it was felt that the search was one of several factors that applied great pressure on the suspect to release her alive. He was captured and is waiting trail.

National Seashore search 6/11/2003

Twenty-five SAR members and five CARDA K-9 teams were deployed after Seashore Rangers requested a search for a missing man whose car was found at the Palo Marin trailhead. The car was unattended for at least three days. Teams were deployed along the bluffs and beaches of the Palo Marin area and searched a wide area for five hours. Several clues were located in a nearby garbage can that indicated he may have had car trouble towards the end of the search. He remains missing at this time.

Novato search 5/12/2003

Marin SAR was requested to respond for a missing despondent man in the hills above Novato. As members arrived at the command post, Novato PD was able to reach him on his cell phone and encouraged him to come to the CP. He did shortly afterward and was taken to Unit B.

Madera County mutual aid 5/10/2003

Fourteen Marin SAR members responded Friday night to support Madera Sheriff’s SAR in another search for an Alzheimer’s patient who had been missing for over a month near Course Gold, a small town not far from Yosemite. Teams were briefed first thing Saturday morning and then deployed by a National Guard helicopter into two remote areas, too difficult to access earlier due to snow and poor weather. Teams were able to complete their assignment in about six hours. No further clues were located. Other responding mutual aid teams that day included Mariposa and Merced Sheriff’s SAR Units. In all, about 70 SAR volunteers participated in the effort. Several previous search efforts included dive and mine rescue teams in addition to ground and K-9 teams.

Marin City body search 5/7/2003

Twelve Marin SAR members and two CARDA cadaver dog teams we called to search the area around a fire road after a hiker discovered a human leg bone in a tree. Teams were deployed behind the cadaver dogs who located the rest of the remains in a brushy ravine, several hundred feet below the location of the bone. Further investigation revealed the body was that of a woman who was reported missing and despondent out of Sausalito in June, 2002.

Contra Costa Mutual Aid 4/21/2003

Ten Marin SAR members responded mutual aid for a missing Alzheimer’s patient who walked away from a care home the previous afternoon in the city of Moraga. Contra Costa SAR had searched throughout the night. We arrived at 7:00 AM along with teams from Alameda Sheriff’s SAR and CARDA. About an hour into the second operation period we got word that the subject had been located walking along a freeway in Oakland by an AMR medic unit. It is unknown how he got to Oakland with no money or vehicle.

Fairfax search 4/11/2003

Ten members responded with two CARDA cadaver dogs to assist Fairfax Police in the search for a missing homeless man. The missing subject lived out of his van in downtown Fairfax and was reported missing by his son who said he had not checked his mail and had not been seen for two weeks. The missing subject had two strokes in the last year. Teams spent several hours clearing the creek through downtown Fairfax and other open spaces in the downtown area. The last confirmed location was at an ATM machine in San Francisco two weeks ago. No further clues were located.

Woodacre evidence search 4/4/2003

Thirteen SAR members responded to assist Sheriff’s investigators with an evidence search. Members were committed for three hours.

Mt Tam search 3/28/2003

Water District Rangers requested a SAR response for a missing 17 y.o. woman who became separated from her sister while hiking near Alpine Lake as was several hours overdue. As SAR members where responding she was located at a 7-11 in Fairfax by rangers in good condition. Communication issues seemed to be the reason for the separation.

Mill Valley search 3/19/2003

Marin SAR was requested by Mill Valley Police to assist in the search for a missing developmentally disabled boy who became separated from his caregiver in downtown Mill Valley. As SAR members were responding a police unit located the subject several blocks from the point last seen.

Ross Search 3/12/2003

Ross Police requested Marin SAR to respond for a missing developmentally disabled woman who was 5 hours overdue from returning to her home from work. Around 11PM a 10 person management team responded to gather more information and conduct a hasty search. The subject returned home not long after the search started.

Fire Department assist 3/9/2003

Five Marin SAR members responded with ATV’s to assist County Fire Department units and Water District Rangers looking for a woman crying for help in the open space lands above Fairfax by the Pine Mountain Tunnel access road. The area was searched and no one in distress was located.

Coastal Search for Shuttle debris 3/1/2003

Marin SO SAR along with Sonoma and Mendocino Counties were requested by NASA through the State OES Law Enforcement Division to search the entire coastline for Shuttle debris that may have fallen off over the Pacific. Marin requested mutual aid SAR teams from CAL-ESAR, Bay Area Mountain Rescue, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Over ninety searchers were mobilized that morning and split into two Branches, one covering the Golden Gate National Recreation and the other covering the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Some items were located and turned over to NASA for further study. Other supporting agencies included the National Park Service and Marin County Fire Department. Lake, Napa and Solano SO SAR supported Sonoma SO SAR the same day for a similar effort along the Sonoma Coast. Mendocino SO SAR also conducted a large scale search of their coastline Saturday as well.

Mill Valley Search 2/19/2003

During the early stages of the Sheaves search, Mill Valley PD requested a search for a missing woman who’s dog and CD player were located in a park after she was reported missing around midnight. Several members were reassigned from the Sheaves search and two CARDA dogs were diverted too Mill Valley. As we began the hasty search an assisting Mill Valley fire chief located the missing woman adjacent to the Park. She had an altered mental status due to medication issues. Units were then deployed back to the Sheaves search.

Day 3, Sheaves search 2/25/2003

Marin SAR returned after a new sighting came in to San Rafael Police late Monday afternoon. The reporting party had seen Sheaves on Wednesday fronting his house about an hour after he was reported to have left his house for a walk. Ten SAR members responded Tuesday morning with San Rafael PD and searched the open space areas on the hillside above the sighting. Two hours into the search a team located Mr. Sheaves body at the base of a small water fall. He was off trail and had climbed a steep hillside and then fell back down into a ravine. An autopsy showed he had sustained a heart attack.

Sheaves Search 2/19/2003

Marin SAR responded with thirty-one members, 4 CARDA dog teams, ATV’s and a management team for a missing 66 y.o. despondent male who was last seen walking from his house just before darkness fell in the Peacock Gap area in San Rafael. Teams cleared a wide area around the PLS through the night. During the day several more teams and ATV assignments were deployed and San Rafael PD committed 10 civilian employees and post flyers in the neighborhood. No additional clues were located. Nearly forty assignments were deployed during the first operational period.

Day 2, Sheaves search 2/20/2003

Marin SAR covered an additional six assignments as San Rafael PD continued the investigation. No additional clues were located. James Sheaves left his house stating he was going on a short walk. He left without his wallet, vehicle or medication. He left no indication that he was planning to harm himself. He was generally known to only walk a couple of miles, remaining on pavement and never after dark. San Rafael PD detectives continued to investigate and issued press releases.

Day two, Mayfield Search 2/7/2003

Thirteen Marin SAR members joined 55 searches from other SAR teams that included Alameda, Napa, Contra Costa, Solano, CAL-ESAR and CARDA. Teams were deployed in and around the area of St. Helena and cleared vineyards, neighborhoods, river areas and country roads where she has wandered previously. Late in the day, two sightings came in that put her on a remote driveway several miles northeast of St. Helena on Tuesday afternoon. Plans were made to search that area thoroughly on Saturday.

Napa County Mutual Aid 2/6/2003

Marin SAR responded twelve members including ATV’s and a management team on Thursday morning to assist Napa SO SAR in searching for a missing 88 y.o. Alzheimer’s patient by the name of Luevinea Mayfield in the area of St. Helena. Napa SAR had worked through Wednesday night. She had been missing since Tuesday night after walking away from her home. She had a long history of wandering and had been found as far as 5 miles away on previous occasions. Other responding agencies Thursday included Sonoma SAR, Solano SAR, Contra Costa SAR and CARDA. No clues were located and plans were made to search Friday.

Day three, Mayfield Search 2/8/2003

Nine Marin SAR members responded and assisted in managing over 100 searchers from teams that included Napa, Solano, Sonoma, San Mateo, Bay Area Mountain Rescue, Lake, CAL-ESAR, Conta Costa and CARDA. Teams were split into two divisions that covered steep brushy hillsides and vineyards. At the end of the day, no additional clues and sightings were reported. Napa SO has suspended active searching at this time and she remains missing. Well over 230 ground search assignments were run, along with numerous dog teams’ assignments, several hours aerial search by Helicopter and 10 miles and of Napa River were searched by boat.

Mt. Tam Search 1/27/2003

Marin SAR was activated for two women who were overdue from a day hike just after midnight. As SAR members were responding to the Rock Springs trailhead where their car was located by deputies, a MMWD ranger located the pair, safe but cold, on a fire road about a mile from Rock Springs. They became disoriented after darkness fell and stayed put hoping help would come.

Novato Search 1/16/2003

Marin SAR was activated to respond for a woman whose dog was found wandering in the Indian Valley Open Space area without her. The reporting party believed she may be in distress. As we were responding, deputies through investigation found the woman at work, no merit to search.