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Lost Hiker found safe and sound

Santa Barbara News-Press 19 February 2004

By Hildy Medina

A San Jose man who disappeared after a hike in Rattlesnake Canyon was found in good health Wednesday near Isla Vista, authorities said.

Bradbrook "Brad" Whittell, 23, was located shortly before 1 p.m. after city police received a call from the man's father telling them that his son had just phoned and that he was fine.

Nearly 50 sheriff's search and rescue volunteers from Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obisbo and Ojai, aided by three rescue dogs and a helicopter, launched an extensive search that lasted nearly 24 hours.

Mr Whittell, an experienced hiker, got lost on Monday and took the wrong trail, which led him to upper San Roque Road and out of the canyon, said Lt. Paul McCafffrey of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

He then walked to Arroyo Burro Beach, where he spent the past two nights.

"He had no idea he had been reported missing," Lt. McCaffrey said. "He was highly embarrassed when he learned about the extensive search effort."

Mr. Whittell was last seen about 1 p.m. Monday by a woman who was walking down the trail next to Skofield Park. She borrowed his cell phone to make a short call, and when she went to return the phone, he was gone, she told police.

The woman had to leave and asked a pair of hikers walking up the trail to return the phone if they ran across Mr. Whittell. The hikers did not see him; when they returned to the trailhead, they contacted Mr. Whittell, father, whose number was programmed into the phone.

His father drove to Santa Barbara that day and found his son's car in the parking lot at Skofield Park. The car was locked with his wallet inside in plain view. On Tuesday, Mr Whittell had not returned to his car, so his father called police.