Sheriff John Anderson launched a Search & Rescue Mission within the last hour to locate a 5-man Kayaking Crew in the vicinity of Balloon Dome (elevation approximately 6,895 feet), located roughly 17.4 miles North East of Old Mammoth and 17 miles South West of Whiskey Falls – with no additional populated places within a 20 mile radius.
The area is extremely rugged terrain and difficult to reach by foot.
The Sheriff’s Office has called on California Highway Patrol for aerial support. H-40 is now attempting to locate the group. It’s believed the team started their journey around Devil’s Post Pile, when distress calls were sent out showing the group to be in the area of Balloon Dome.
Sheriff Anderson says the party prepared for the adventure, equipped with an emergency messaging device, capable of sending out distress signals if in trouble. It’s important to have this system because it’s nearly impossible to rely on cell service in many parts of the high country and wilderness.
The system can be rented in places like REI, for example. In the event of an emergency, the owner punches 911, which automatically sends a distress signal with coordinates via satellite to the company that operates this device.
In turn the company then sends coordinate information to the appropriate stateCAL OES in this case. CAL OES then contacts the County OES in charge, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office in this case.
In addition to registering the device, the party must also provide an emergency contact so that Rescue personnel can learn more about the individual in distress.
That’s how our Office found out about the number of people involved.
Again, we’ve been advised that this is a 5-man Kayaking Team – all athletic. We do not know at this immediate time the nature of the emergency.
More information will be released as it becomes available.