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15 missing hikers from California church group found safe

Posted at 4:14 PM, Nov 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-10 16:15:59-05
After heavy fog lifted from Eaton Canyon Monday morning helicopter crews were able to aid ground officials and locate a church group of at least 15 hikers who went missing near Eaton Canyon the previous night, officials said. The group was reported missing in the area just north of Altadena, California around 11 p.m. on Sunday, November 9, 2014. (CNN)

After heavy fog lifted from Eaton Canyon Monday morning helicopter crews were able to aid ground officials and locate a church group of at least 15 hikers who went missing near Eaton Canyon the previous night, officials said. The group was reported missing in the area just north of Altadena, California around 11 p.m. on Sunday, November 9, 2014. (CNN)

Altadena, CA (KTLA) — After heavy fog lifted from Eaton Canyon Monday morning helicopter crews were able to aid ground officials and locate a church group of at least 15 hikers who went missing near Eaton Canyon the previous night, officials said.

Multiple hikers were reported missing in the area, just north of Altadena, to the Sheriff’s Department around 11 p.m. Sunday, LASD Deputy Hernandez said. Friends of the hikers said the group had left earlier that day.

The group was located around 9 a.m. Monday, and helicopter crews were working to hoist the group from the area. None of the hikers appeared to be injured, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

Two hikers who separated from the others made it out of the canyon during the night and told authorities they did not know where the 15 to 16 others were.

The group was “pretty well prepared” and had ropes, harnesses, helmets, food and water among them, but were not ready for an overnight trip, Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Paige said.

“We’re not sure why they stopped hiking,” Paige said. “We’re presuming maybe someone became injured, we’re really not sure. But for some reason they were unable to continue their trip, where they were going to hike in the canyon near where the waterfall is then hike out.”

A woman who had previously hiked with the group told KTLA she was not concerned and felt confident the group would be found.

“This is something we do regularly, it’s nothing new,” friend of the group, Wenderlyn Ortiz, said. “It’s a big group and not everybody has the same physical capability of walking for a long time. We assume someone got tired and they stopped.”

Ortiz said it was not uncommon for the group to stop when someone became tired.

“We just stop and we stay, we don’t move,” she said.

At least 20 people searched for the missing hikers overnight and two helicopters joined the efforts before 8 a.m. Monday. Fog had prevented the choppers from launching at 6:20 a.m. daybreak, Paige said.

Patchy fog was expected before 10 a.m. Monday, and clouds were expected to remain throughout the day in the Altadena area, the National Weather Service reported.

Los Angeles County Fire Department officials were assisting Sheriff’s Department search and rescue crews, Hernandez said. Two other groups joined the efforts Monday morning.