14 backpackers rescued after getting caught in thunderstorm in Emigrant Wilderness

Local News

TUOLUMNE COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Fourteen backpackers were rescued from the Emigrant Wilderness in the Sierra after they got caught in a thunderstorm.

Late Wednesday, the group had set up camp 13 miles from the Gianelli Trailhead and were caught in a storm that included hail, lightning and heavy rain, according to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office.

During that time, several teenagers in the group had hypothermia and needed evacuation.

Cal Fire crews that were battling a fire near Groveland were able to fly a helicopter to their location, the sheriff’s office said.

Four of the backpackers who needed immediate medical attention were flown to ambulance personnel and hospitalized.

The sheriff’s office said two of its search and rescue team members were flown to the rest of the group and helped them hike back to the trailhead the following morning.

Mules were also brought in by the Aspen Meadows Pack Station to return the group’s gear.

“We also want to remind everyone that the Sierra Nevada Mountains are notorious for rapid and severe weather changes,” the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team wrote in a statement. “Please be prepared for anything and everything when heading into the back county. Have a plan, share your plan and make sure you have a means to contact help, if needed.”

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