Sunday, 19 May 2024

Woman found safe after getting lost on hike

MIDDLETOWN – A woman lost in the wilderness in the south county is back home safe after emerging from the woods unharmed on Wednesday.


Heidi Marlene Fichthorn, 50, found her way back to Harbin Hot Springs after being reported missing on Monday, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.


Bauman said sheriff's deputies responded to Big Canyon Road, north of Middletown, on Tuesday at about 8:30 p.m. on a report of suspicious circumstances involving a missing person case initially reported the previous day.


A passerby had reportedly picked up a 70-year-old woman identified only as “Omi” of Harbin Hot Springs on Big Canyon Road, six miles north of Harbin Springs Road, said Bauman.


Omi had sustained some injuries from an apparent fall she took while hiking with Fichthorn, also of Harbin Hot Springs. Bauman said Fichthorn had been reported as missing from the Harbin Hot Springs Retreat on Monday due to unknown circumstances but Omi’s absence had apparently gone unnoticed.


Omi told deputies she and Fichthorn had left Harbin on Sunday at about 1 p.m. to go on a hike and at some point during that night in the woods, the two became separated and presumably lost, said Bauman.


Bauman said Omi had apparently remained in the wilderness area north of Harbin for the next two days and at some point, she took a fall and sustained her injuries. She had no further information on Fichthorn’s whereabouts. Cal Fire Rescue personnel responded for treatment of her injuries.


Officials immediately launched a search and rescue operation to try and locate Fichthorn, Bauman said.


The Lake County Sheriff’s Office coordinated as many as 75 volunteers searching the wooded areas north of Harbin Springs Road throughout the night and into the early morning hours on Wednesday, according to Bauman.


Air support was provided during the night by REACH out of Lampson Field in Lakeport and when day broke, California Highway Patrol and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office both responded helicopters to assist with the search.


At about 10 a.m. Fichthorn emerged from the woods just north of Harbin Springs Road and reportedly got a ride from a passerby back to the Harbin Hot Springs Resort where she met up with search personnel, Bauman reported.


He said Fichthorn was relatively uninjured and confirmed she had initially left the retreat on a hike with Omi on Sunday but became separated that night and she had spent the next two days lost in the wilderness.


Agencies assisting with the search for Fichthorn included search and rescue personnel from Lake, Contra Costa, Mendocino, Sonoma and Sacramento counties. REACH, Cal Fire, CHP, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County K-Corps and personnel from the Harbin Hot Springs Retreat also assisted while sheriff’s volunteers supported command and coordination of the search operation, Bauman said.


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