By Christian Leonard
A 73-year-old Gardena man lost in the Angeles National Forest for a week was found alive Saturday after a search-and-rescue operation involving almost 90 people.
Eugene Jo had been with a group hiking on Mount Waterman on June 22 when they took a break for lunch. Soon afterward, the hikers realized Jo had gone missing.
Authorities began searching for him that night, with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department ordering an expansive search before requesting resources from other counties. It soon became apparent that Jo was not on the main trail, making the mission even more difficult.
After a week of searching, members of the Altadena Mountain Rescue team found Jo alive and awake, though very thirsty, near a stream in the Devil’s Canyon area last Saturday, June 29. Jo has military experience, according to Deputy Daniel Paige of the Altadena Sheriff’s Station, and said he survived off stream water and cactus flowers. Jo also said he had seen one of the helicopters searching for him, but he was unable to hail those aboard.
A helicopter took Jo to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, where he was discharged after about five hours. Doctors, Paige said, were surprised by how healthy Jo was — drinking unpurified stream water can result in illness. Jo was unharmed apart from some scratches on his hands and forearms caused by brush.
It was not immediately clear how Jo was separated from his group. However, Paige encourages hikers to research the area through which they plan to venture and to pack survival equipment such as a map, a compass and a water purification device. He also recommends bringing a signal mirror to attract rescuers in the case of an emergency, as there is typically no cell reception in many areas of the Angeles forest.
Approximately 87 people from all over California assisted in the search on Saturday, according to Paige.