Stranded Backpackers Saved By a Message in a Bottle

Grace Davis, Contributor

We all know what it’s like to be lost or just stranded in one way or another. This California family was saved by their own creative ideas that they had no idea would work. Curtis Whitson, his girlfriend Krystal Ramirez, and his 13 year old son Hunter Whitson were backpacking when they got stuck at the top of a 40 foot waterfall. Meera Dolasia explains how, “However, when the hikers reached the waterfall, Whitson realized that unlike his previous trip through the area, the water currents were too strong to navigate across.” If their trip couldn’t get any worse the family discovered that the rope Whitson found last time had gone missing. N’dea Yancey-Bragg writes from USA today saying, “Curtis Whitson, 44, his girlfriend Krystal Ramirez, 34, and his 13-year-old son Hunter Whitson were expecting to rappel down the side of the rock using the rope that Whitson found the last time he’d made the same journey, The Washington Post reported. But this time, the rope wasn’t there.” The family realized that their trip was over and that they needed to be rescued. The family hiked over the river to see if they could find a way, but just found that it all led to dead ends. They cried for help and carved a message into a stick before Curtis Whitson came up with what would soon be their way out.

Whitson carved on a water bottle, “GET HELP”. Whitson then used some scrap paper, Ramirez had brought to keep score for games, to write out, “”We are stuck here @ the waterfall get help please.” Whitson places the paper with the message inside of the water bottle and threw it down the waterfall hoping that someone anyone would find it and call for help. Afterwards they placed a tarp on the ground and used rocks to spell “SOS” as another signal for help. They waited at a beach for the night. Sometime around midnight, the family was awakened by a California highway patrol helicopter flying just overhead. Using their loudspeaker they said, “This is Search and Rescue. You have been found. Stay put and we’ll be back to get you tomorrow morning.” It had been too dark for the California highway patrol to conduct their rescue, so they waited til morning. The families hope became reality and they were rescued in the morning, just as promised.

Soon concluding their rescue, the family finally were told of who alerted the officials about the family being stuck. Meera Dolasia reports of this, “Shortly after being picked up on the morning of June 17, 2019, the trio discovered that two hikers had stumbled upon their water bottle and, upon seeing the distress message, reported the issue to the officials at the Arroyo Seco campground.” quotes Whitson on this matter writing, “Whitson says, ‘They didn’t leave their name or phone number. They just did what was right in their heart, and took it seriously. They couldn’t have done it faster or more selflessly, and I can’t thank them enough.’ Whitson and his family hope the two good Samaritans will reveal their identity so that they can express their gratitude in person.” The family is eternally grateful for those people, but if it hadn’t been for the water bottle and the message the two hikers might have never found the stuck family.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49667296

https://www.dogonews.com/2019/9/13/message-in-a-bottle-saves-stranded-california-hikers

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/11/message-bottle-leads-rescuers-stranded-california-hikers/2291377001/