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Read on about the coordinated effort that located and rescued the two hikers.

Mariposa County Heroes Rescue Missing Hikers

MARIPOSA–The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department is reporting that on
Monday, June 10th, 2024 at 8:30 am, their office received a report of two subjects who were overdue. The subjects were Leah Bernard (34 years old) and Daren Daniels (38 years old) both of Mariposa. The two left on June 7th to go cave exploring in the area and had failed to return.

Daren’s wallet was found on Schilling Road by a resident. Cell pings were initiated on their phones. Family members were able to inform us of some approximate cell coordinates of where the couple may have been headed.

Deputies and drones were utilized to search the roads and area. CHP Helicopter H42 assisted in the search due to the search area being extremely steep, hot, and thick with brush. Check out the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Facebook Page here for a video of the helicopter.

The search continued through the night and into June 11th, 2024 when a Search and Rescue (SAR) 4×4 team responded as well as several SAR members to walk the area on foot.

At approximately 12:45 pm Leah contacted their office via 911 from her cell phone. Using her cell phone coordinates deputies were able to find her exact location and direct searchers to her. Searchers were able to navigate to the extremely remote and technical roads where they located her in between Quartz Mountain and the North Fork drainage. Leah and Daren had become separated so searchers continued to look for Daren.

The Sheriff’s Office contracted helicopter service was also called in to assist in searching. Search and Rescue (SAR) ground units located tracks believed to belong to Daniels in the Quartz Mountain area.

SAR and drone operations continued into the night around the Quartz Mountain and the Merced River drainage areas. Daren was able to text family asking for them to come help him at the convergence of Merced and the North Fork. At approximately 10:45 pm on June 11th SAR ground units located Daren after he hiked off Quartz Mountain and hit the Merced River trail.

Both Leah and Daren were extremely dehydrated, however neither one of them required extensive medical treatment.

This is a good reminder to be prepared when using our expansive trails, hiking and camping locations throughout Mariposa County. Create your itinerary and share it with friends or family. Prepare for the weather in the area you are planning to visit, will it be hot, cold, rain, etc. Consult trail guides to see how rigorous the trails you want to check out are. Stay on trails.

“Anytime we can bring people home safely it is a great day. With essentially two searches going on simultaneously this is a great example of quick reporting, quick response and multiple agencies working together to serve our communities.”- Sheriff Jeremy Briese

Sheriff Briese continued, “I can’t say enough great things about our Search and Rescue team and the Sheriff’s Office staff that coordinate that program. It is always such a great feeling to have a positive outcome in such unknown circumstances.”

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