HCSO: Search suspended for Canadian hiker on Lost Coast Trail

Rick Raymond Eastep, 32 of Ontario, Canada

The search for a Canadian hiker thought to be injured while hiking the Lost Coast Trail alone has been suspended, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office (HCSO).

On Jan. 9 crews began searching the coastline after a shuttle driver received a concerning text message from a hiker he had driven to the area. The hiker, 32-year-old Rick Raymond Eastep of Ontario, Canada sent a text message reading something along the lines of: "Help, I hurt my back, I'm near Miller Flat," according to Cheryl Antony, a spokesperson for Shelter Cove Fire.

Eight agencies searched extensively for four days, and they found a dry sack containing Eastep's hiking permit near Big Bar, according to Antony. The backpack along with other backpacking supplies appeared to have been washed up by the surf, according to the HCSO.

"Due to bad weather, high tides and large surf, portions of the coast were impassable the first night of the search," the HCSO said Saturday, the day the search was suspended.

A United States Coast Guard helicopter arrived in the Spanish Flat area the night of Jan. 9 and initiated search operations from the air utilizing a “FLIR” camera.

"Crews continued an intensive search well into the morning of Jan. 10, only pulling off the beaches when high tide and large swells became a life safety issue for rescuers," the HCSO said.

Over the next four days, search and rescue crews from eight different agencies utilized helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, ATVs, ocean rescue boats and specialized search and rescue teams, including dog teams, to search over 26 miles of rugged water and coastline, and 16 miles of wilderness trails. During that search, several other items belonging to Eastep were located.

"No sign or evidence other than the items previously mentioned have been located as of January 12," the HCSO said.

Ultimately at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 12, the search was suspended.

"It is the decision of the command staff of this incident, which includes the Sheriff’s Office, Shelter Cove Fire and Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue, to suspend the intensive search and rescue operations for Eastep as of 3:30 p.m. on January 12," the HCSO said in a press release.

The search area will be periodically patrolled over the next several weeks for any evidence that could lead to the conclusion of the search and rescue operation.

"The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to recognize the many agencies who helped in this search, including Shelter Cove Fire Rescue, Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue Team, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Posse, Shelter Cove CERT Team, USCG Sector Humboldt Bay, CAL FIRE and Bureau of Land Management," the HCSO said.

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