Crews search for miss­ing Water­loo hiker in Cal­i­for­nia

Rick Eastep, 32, sent a text to the lo­cal sher­iff ’s of­fice on Mon­day telling them he was in­jured

Waterloo Region Record - - Local - [email protected]­cord.com Twit­ter: @Mon­teiroRecord LIZ MONTEIRO

WATER­LOO — For al­most four days search and res­cue crews scoured the rugged coastal moun­tain area in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia look­ing for Rick Eastep of Water­loo.

The 32-year-old man went miss­ing while hik­ing alone on the Lost Coast Trail last week.

On Satur­day, the ex­ten­sive ground, air and wa­ter search was called off.

“We will still be look­ing along the beaches but it will be a less ag­gres­sive ap­proach,” Shel­ter Cove Fire Chief Nick Pape said Sun­day in an in­ter­view.

“We def­i­nitely ex­hausted the ex­tent of our re­sources” in search­ing for Eastep, he said.

Of­fi­cials said they found no ev­i­dence to in­di­cate what hap­pened to Eastep but be­lieve the high tides and large surf may have con­trib­uted to him go­ing miss­ing.

Emer­gency per­son­nel were dis­patched out to the 48-kilo­me­tre stretch of re­mote coastal trails to search for Eastep on Wed­nes­day night after he sent a text to the Hum­boldt County Sher­iff’s Of­fice telling them he was in­jured.

Search crews were told he may have hurt his back in the area of Miller Flat.

It ap­pears Eastep sent the text on Mon­day but of­fi­cials didn’t re­ceive it un­til Wed­nes­day be­cause of poor cell­phone re­cep­tion.

Dur­ing the first night of the search, some ar­eas were im­pass­able be­cause of high tides, winds and rain but crews found a back­pack that had been washed up by the surf.

Vol­un­teer crews also found Eastep’s hik­ing per­mit which had the date of Jan. 3 is­sued on it.

Ch­eryl Antony, a vol­un­teer fire­fighter with Shel­ter Cove Fire, said about 30 peo­ple searched the area by he­li­copter, ATV, res­cue boats and walk­ing the ground.

A U.S. Coast Guard he­li­copter with spe­cial­ized ther­mal imag­ing in­frared cam­eras also searched the area.

They scoured the 48 kilo­me­tres of rugged wa­ter coast­line and 26 kilo­me­tres of iso­lated wilder­ness trails.

“It’s very rugged,” she said. “It’s ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful but it can be re­ally scary.”

Much of the trail is on the beach and dis­ap­pears at high tide.

“The weather is very chal­leng­ing,” she said. “It’s not for the faint of heart.”

Antony said the car that Eastep drove was the sole car in the park­ing lot in Shel­ter Cove.

Antony said there were high wave warn­ings and Eastep would have re­ceived the tide tables from area guides.

Antony said vol­un­teers cov­ered some ar­eas three times in an at­tempt to find clues to Eastep’s dis­ap­pear­ance and of­ten came back “sop­ping” wet.

Nick Man­ning of the Univer­sity of Water­loo said Eastep is em­ployed at the univer­sity work­ing as a pre­sen­ta­tion tech­nol­ogy spe­cial­ist in the in­for­ma­tion sys­tems and tech­nol­ogy depart­ment.

HUM­BOLDT COUNTY SHER­IFF’S OF­FICE

Rick Eastep, 32, went miss­ing while hik­ing alone on the Lost Coast Trail last week.

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