Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Environmental Services Agency



May 15, 2002


June 4, 2002


9:00 a.m.



Honorable Board of Supervisors


Supervisor Jerry Hill


Supervisor Richard Gordon


Commendations Recognizing Successful Rescue on Montara Mountain



Commend San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and Search and Rescue Volunteers, and County Environmental Services Agency's Parks Division staff and volunteer, for the March 21, 2002 successful search and rescue operation on Montara Mountain.



In the late afternoon of March 21, 2002, Mr. Jorge Wilson, a 31-year-old hiker with a Special Needs Program from the City of San Jose Parks & Recreation, became separated from his group. Pacifica Police Department was dispatched to the scene and began searching for him in the area of San Pedro Valley County Park. They contacted County Parks and Sheriff's Office for assistance; and a full search and rescue operation commenced. Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue units were activated, including the Sheriff's Air Squadron's fixed wing aircraft. Parks staff joined in the operation.

Ranger Steve Durkin, the Park Ranger in Residence, had been off-duty that day and when he returned home about 5:00 p.m., he asked if his assistance was needed. Indicated that it was not, the Ranger went to his home. From there, he could hear someone crying, "Help!" He notified the Command Post and joined in the search.

Around midnight, Mr. Wilson was located. He had strayed from the trail and was trapped in dense brush on a steep incline several hundred yards north of the communication towers just inside San Pedro Valley Park. Using chain saws to clear a path, personnel were able to extract Mr. Wilson 3 ½ hours later. He was cold and scratched, but uninjured.



The successful search and rescue operation for Mr. Wilson required extraordinary efforts of all of the individuals involved. The area being searched was vast; echo effects distorted the direction of sound so searchers had to coordinate to eliminate echo locations; there is dense brush and steep, rocky terrain; and it was dark and cold. Fortunately, Mr. Wilson was able to almost continuously shout for help.

It took eight hours to locate the hiker; and more than three hours to extract him from the dense brush in which he had become trapped. To get to him physically, personnel had to carve tunnels through growth, which permitted at times access traveling like a snake would, on their bellies.

Although we are asking the Board to commend the County Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Unit Volunteers, and Environmental Services Agency's (ESA) Parks Division staff and volunteer as entities, we think all 51 individuals who participated should be recognized for the record.


County Sheriff's Office

County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Volunteers

Environmental Services Agency. Parks Division


Lt. John Quinlan

Jeff Norris

Superintendent Dave Moore

Sgt. Rich DiLorenzo

Bill Smith

Ranger Mike Fritz

Deputy Larry Edwards

Larry Nelson

Ranger Doug Heisinger

Deputy Doug Medina

Will Hirst

Ranger Steve Durkin

Deputy Eddy Ingram

Chris Caldwell

Ranger Emily Jetke

Sgt. John Hein

Robert Betts

Ed Decker, Friends of SPVP

Deputy Jim Farrell

John Silvey


Deputy Josh Chilton

Liane Diggins


Deputy Patrick Lucy

Heather Forsythe


Leonard Brzezinski


Marco Cavalieri


John Ayllon


Nelson Tejada


Dan Bennett


Andy Forbes


John Koerner


Tom Ennis


Judy Hilldrith


Gary Martell


Barbara and Frank Erbacher


Ross Fleischman


Gerard Stone



Mike Hogan


Adcock Winston


Frank Dal Porte


Vision Alignment

These commendations keep the commitment of ensuring basic health and safety for all and goal number seven: maintenance and enhancement of the public safety of all residents and visitors. The commendation contributes to this commitment and goal by providing recognition to the staff and volunteers who dedicated many hours under adverse circumstances to ensure the safety of a member of the public.


Fiscal Impact

There is no fiscal impact associated with these commendations.