Malibu SAR Team Makes Treacherous Rescue

Malibu Gorge Rescue

Three stranded hikers were ushered to safety on Sunday evening in Malibu Creek State Park during a seven-hour operation in dangerous, wet conditions between multiple emergency agencies. 

The hikers, a 24-year-old female and 23- and 25-year-old males, became stranded in the “Gorge” area of Malibu Creek State Park near Century Lake Dam and exhibited early signs of hypothermia. Their hike began around 12 p.m. and the call for emergency assistance came in at 6:20 p.m., according to the Malibu Search and Rescue Team. 

“The woman had hiked the Rock Pool and Gorge areas of the park approximately 10 times before but had never encountered these conditions, which included rushing water, extremely slippery rocks, thick foam banks and freezing cold temperatures,” a press release stated. “Because of the conditions and the length of time that the hikers were out, they were wet and cold and were suffering early hypothermia, prompting their call to 911.”

The trio was stranded on a rock amid surging river conditions, but an L.A. County Fire helicopter determined the area was too narrow for a hoist rescue. SAR crews instead sent a “bash team” to reach the victims, but the journey took several hours. 

Once the bash team made face-to-face contact, the Malibu SAR rescuers assisted the victims off of their rock perch and brought them to the riverbank by forming a ‘human bridge,” the SAR team recounted.

Evacuating the victims out on the ground would make their conditions worse, rescuers said, so crews requested a smaller helicopter from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. The smaller craft was able to better navigate into the area and hoist the three victims to safety. 

All crews eventually made their way out of the Gorge area just after 1 a.m., wrapping up seven hours of strenuous work.