Hikers missing in Southern California mountains found safe

MOUNT BALDY VILLAGE, Calif. (AP) — Two hikers who vanished in snowy Southern California mountains were found safe on Wednesday by rescuers who spent days searching the rugged heights.

Gabrielle Wallace, 31, of Rancho Cucamonga and Eric Desplinter, 33, of Chino Hills went missing Saturday in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

A search team found two sets of footprints in Cucamonga Canyon, south of Mount Baldy, and followed them. A helicopter sent to the area spotted two people near a campfire, according to a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The hikers were to be flown to the Mount Baldy fire station to be reunited with their families and paramedics would determine whether they need further treatment, the statement said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which helped with the search, described the pair as being "safely" located but there were no immediate details about their conditions.

"Miracles happen, and this is a miracle," Mike Leum with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a tweet.

The hikers vanished while heading toward the 8,860-foot (2,700-meter) Cucamonga Peak near Mount Baldy. Desplinter was described as an experienced hiker and the two were carrying proper equipment for the icy conditions.

Search-and-rescue teams from six counties volunteered to help comb some 30 square miles (77.7 square kilometers) of the mountains, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The two had set out with a group of four people but the other two turned back out of concern about the danger of the trail, KABC-TV reported.

Brenda Wallace, Gabrielle's mother, told KCBS-TV that Desplinter was her daughter's boss and that her daughter had recently bought hiking gear for the trip.

"I know he wouldn't leave her and she wouldn't leave him," she said.

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