Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Search and rescue effort locates Upper Lake man

Sgt. Gary Basor of the Lake County Sheriff's Office and Helen Duncan locate Duncan's 19-year-old son, Austin, on Tuesday after a lengthy search. A CHP helicopter from Napa County sits in the background. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


UPPER LAKE – Following a search that lasted several hours on Tuesday, law enforcement and fire personnel were able to find an injured Upper Lake man.

Austin Duncan, 18, was located around mid-afternoon after falling and injuring his back.

Sheriff's officials reported that they attempted to contact Duncan at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at a location along Highway 20. Duncan, however, fled, running across the highway in the area of Reclamation Road.

Officials did not comment on the purpose of the initial contact with Duncan. However, an unidentified family member suggested that the family was concerned about Duncan's behavior after a family member's recent death.

Duncan managed to evade deputies for several hours before calling 911 around 11:30 a.m., according to a report at the scene. He explained to the 911 dispatcher that he had fallen and had injured his back and requested medical assistance.

As Duncan attempted to describe his surroundings to the California Highway Patrol dispatchers in Ukiah, the dispatchers communicated via radio to CHP Officers Craig Van Housen and Brian Engle, who were aiding the sheriff's office in the search, along with Northshore Fire.

A CHP helicopter from Napa joined the search at 1 p.m.

Communication with Duncan was lost several times. Officials suggested that perhaps Duncan was seeking medical help but did not want contact with law enforcement.

The search covered several acres on both sides of Reclamation Road, with terrain varying from flat open fields to deep and wide gullies lined by 10- to 12-foot-tall dense, wild berry bushes with long sharp thorns.

At around 2 p.m., Duncan made contact with 911 again. With the help of the dispatcher, Duncan described what he could see and hear, and his location was narrowed to an area just 50 feet from the side of the road.

Found in the heavy wild berry bushes Duncan was unable to move without assistance. Duncan’s mother, Helena Duncan, assisted officials in the search and was the first to make visual contact.

The terrain where he was located was nearly inaccesible from the road. The CHP helicopter was sent airborne again with a CHP flight paramedic and Sheriff's Sgt. Gary Basor on board.

Duncan was carefully extricated from the thorny grasp of the berry bushes and loaded aboard a Northshore Fire ambulance from the Upper Lake station. Medical personnel transported him to Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

No information about Duncan's condition was available late Tuesday.

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



CHP Officer Brian Engle searches for Austin Duncan on Tuesday. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




Sheriff's deputies, CHP officers and rescue personnel from Northshore Fire's Upper Lake station took part in the search. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




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