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Hikers rescued from backcountry

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A 67-year-old woman was retrieved by a CalStar rescue helicopter after she was lost around Lake Margaret in El Dorado County, officials reported.

Carmella Gonzalez of Humble, Texas, was separated from her family while on a hike near Kirkwood.

The family tried to locate her for three hours before calling the U.S. Forest Service at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

A high-risk search was called because of her age, and numerous resources were used, said Deputy Terry Fleck of the El Dorado Sheriff’s Department.

Two helicopters, two U.S. Forest Service employees and 22 search and rescue volunteers from three counties aided the effort.

High-risk searches are used when elderly and young people are lost, as well as those with medical conditions, Fleck said.

Gonzalez was located a half-mile south of Lake Margaret in heavy brush and rock by the CalStar helicopter at 7:45 p.m. The chopper landed and a fatigued and dehydrated Gonzalez was flown to Kirkwood where she was reunited with her family.

“She got separated and lost the trail and became disoriented,” Fleck said. “She couldn’t go any further. She was so tired she couldn’t continue.”

Fleck credited the CalStar helicopter, a donated service, for the rescue.

“CalStar was the hero,” Fleck said. “They’re doing a huge community service searching for free. We’re entirely thankful for that.”

A week ago, El Dorado Sheriff’s Department responded to a call of an 11-year-old boy who suffered an injury to his right leg while hiking the Mount Tallac Trail.

Justin James, from Ukiah, Calif., injured the bones in his right leg around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. El Dorado County sheriff’s search and rescue personal were called to the mouth of the trail and were told to go near Cathedral Lake.

At 5:20 p.m., a California Highway Patrol helicopter from Auburn found James and transported him to Barton Memorial Hospital where he was listed in stable condition.


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