OJAI, California – An Ojai teenager was rescued by the resources of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday night after escaping solo to the Foothill Trail during a mental crisis.
MPs said they received a phone call at around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday afternoon stating that a 16-year-old boy was suffering from a mental crisis in his home in Ojai.
After replying to the home, MPs were informed that the boy had fled and was last seen walking towards the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Area north of the Shelf Trail.
The MPs followed the instruction and spotted the all-black-clad teenage boy walking up the path and out of sight. They said he last walked north on the Fox Canyon Trail toward the Foothill Trail.
The boy’s family told MPs that he had not eaten in several days and they feared he would not be able to cope with the hot weather and strenuous hikes. They also said that they did not believe that he brought any food or water.
The sheriff’s office activated its Tactical Response Team (TRT) to search the area for the teenager.
Members of the Upper Ojai search and rescue team also responded to help the TRT, using their knowledge of the area to determine where the teen might have been.
TRT members then dispatched 4x4s and hiking teams to search the ground from the Pratt Trail to the Gridley Trail. The sheriff’s air unit sent helicopters to search from the air.
After minimal success, the sheriff’s office also dispatched an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Team (UAV) to search with FLIR cameras that can read heat signatures and locate a person on the paths after dark.
MPs announced that the teenager was found around 7 p.m. He was on the Foothill Trail, about two miles from where he had last been seen.
The teenager was taken to live with his mother before being taken to Ojai Valley Community Hospital for a medical examination.