A CHP-H 60 brought down a man who had been stranded 1000 ft. up Tahquitz Canyon. The hours long rescue was a team effort by the CHP, Palm Springs Fire Department, Palm Springs Police Department and their special unit the Palm Springs Mounted Police Search and Rescue.
“He definitely had an angel watching over him,” says Doug Stevens, a 40 year veteran of the volunteer P.S. Mounted Police Rescue.
But maybe it was three angels, three friends who went for a hike on Thursday morning. They were standing in front of Tahquitz Falls when suddenly they heard a voice.
“We all just looked at each other and went, ‘did you hear that?'” says Heather Perchaluk, one of the three friends.
“It was coming from up above and you could tell that there was distress in his voice,” says Mike Feddersen.
“He was clearly in need of help,” says Audrey Kapuscinski.
“It sounded like someone that was having a scary, scary time up there,” says Perchaluk.
They took action. One called 9-1-1, the other ran to the visitors center.
“I told him what happened and he said, ‘Thank you very much, I‘ll check it out’, and that was really the end of my experience,” says Perchaluk.
But that was not the end, a four hour rescue would soon unfold.
They friends heard the sound of the CHP helicopter, and fire department and police filled the street.
Stevens, the leader of the rescue team says the man was in a treacherous area.
“He had fallen about 20 feet and he was on a ledge and good thing that ledge caught him because he had about another 100 feet to go.”
He was in a precarious situation and had been stuck there for at least three days. They devised a plan, it was solid but risky.
“This was right up there with one of the most dangerous … anytime you use a helicopter, there’s danger and if it goes wrong it can go real wrong,” says Stevens.
They rappelled to him and carefully harnessed him.
“He had injured his him so we didn’t want to take the risk it was such a small ledge and he might fall off that ledge and fall to the bottom,” says Stevens.
The rescue was a success, and the man was battered and bruised but happy to be alive.
“He was very grateful, he kind of teared up and said you know, ‘Thank you for saving my life.'”
Stevens, one of the many heroes of the day, can’t help but acknowledge the three friends, “The thing that was most miraculous is that someone heard him yelling for help … he had been yelling for several days,” adding the sound of the water makes it nearly impossible to hear someone that high up, plus the winds were calm, creating perfect conditions for his voice to travel.
“I feel that we were there to help him for some odd reason, it just all the stars aligned … it was just perfect timing,” says Perchaluk.
The Palm Springs Mounted Police Search and Rescue is an all volunteer group, they do about 50 rescues a year. This is the time of year they start getting busy. Stevens says it’s important for those who go hiking to stay on the trails, take plenty of water and a fully charged cell phone.