Interesting how they were able to keep tightening the search area from cellphone info which accelerated the rescue.
SONORA — With the help of a cell phone signal, search and rescue workers late Thursday found a man who got lost while hiking near his home on Lyons Bald Mountain Road. Galen "Tyler" Alpers, 22, left the house about 11:30 a.m., the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department said. He often hiked alone in hills, Sgt. Jeff Wilson said.About 5 p.m., Alpers called his family from his cell phone to tell them he was lost, Wilson said. Family members called the Sheriff's Department, and a search and rescue operation was launched.
Using the signal from the cell phone, rescuers narrowed the search area to a 1.4-mile radius of East Bald Mountain.Working with AT&T, Rob Lyons, search and rescue coordinator, further narrowed the area to within about 164 yards of Alpers' cell phone. By 8:30 p.m. he further pinpointed the area and, by 10:13 p.m., rescuers were close enough to Alpers to hear him calling for help. Rescuers found Alpers in an area thick with manzanita. They broke their way into the brush, cutting themselves on the sharp limbs.
Wilson said he's thankful for the technology that allows the phone company to help track people using cellular signals. The company can pinpoint where a signal originated as it searches for cell towers to bounce off. "We've actually been able to track people down to a certain house that way," Wilson said. This was one of some 100 search and rescue missions workers embark on each year in Tuolumne County, Wilson said. Some, such as the April incident in which two men died in a scuba diving accident at the Jamestown Mine, don't have happy endings. Other times, people deliberately distance themselves from family and friends. "Sometimes people just want to be alone," Wilson said. "They disappear for a while. "But often they need help, like Alpers did. "It was dark," Wilson said. "He was alone and scared."