Labor Day search efforts continue for missing hiker Tim Sgrignoli

Ground crews, dogs and drones continue to work together in the ongoing search for missing hiker Tim Sgrignoli, 29, of Ventura.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department officials said they received a call around 2 p.m. Sunday about a male and female hiker in distress on the Trespass Trail near Gaviota Hot Springs. According to public information officer Scott Safechuck, as soon as a helicopter was dispatched to assist the couple, Sgrignoli left his partner to seek help and find water.

“We were able to do a good rescue by getting her off the mountain and keeping her symptoms at a mild condition,” Safechuck told KSBY. “But unfortunately we have been actively trying to find the missing person for almost 20 hours now.”

Safechuck says there are about 60 people involved in the search, with members of the San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura County sheriff’s offices scrambling through the steep and rugged terrain in search of Sgrignoli.

Ground crews at their base camp also point to the physically taxing efforts of the operation.

“We slept here last night, a little sleep,” department battalion chief Josh Cazier said. “We had to call off search efforts around 3:30 a.m. due to the physical exhaustion of the search dogs.”

And as local temperatures flirt with triple digits this Labor Day, officials are weighing the dangers of strenuous outdoor activities like hiking amid this heatwave.

“I would say the heat is directly related to the symptoms they were having on the side of that hill. When you’re exercising in weather over 90 degrees and you’re on the side of a hill, and you have that light direct sunlight on you, you start to get dehydrated,” added Captain Safechuck.

Cazier also reflects on the platoon of personnel enduring the heat to take on these rescue efforts, despite the holiday weekend. “We have a duty to act, and no matter what, on holidays, nights, days, weekends, the middle of the night, daylight, 100 degrees, snow, we have all have a duty to respond for our citizens,” Cazier said.

Officials say new ground and canine teams are regularly replaced throughout the search. Their base camp also has food, water, and other resources available for units searching along the trail.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is now leading the search.

KNBC reports that the hiker is also from Ventura.

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