By Miriam Raftery
May 26, 2015 (Warner Springs) – A Fullerton couple missing for two weeks after leaving Valley View Casino has been found. An off-road vehicle rider spotted their vehicle on the Los Coyotes reservation in a remote are near Warner Springs. That’s far off the route searched by authorities, since the couple was believed traveling north to a Mother’s Day celebration at a family member’s home in La Quinta.
The body of 79-year-old Cecil “Paul” Knutson was found in the vehicle. His wife, 68-year-old Dianne Bedwell, was found severely dehydrated and taken to an area hospital. She is expected to survive. Bedwell told authorities the couple tried to take a shortcut on a back road but became lost. Their vehicle broke down and there was no cell phone reception.
The couple set out containers to capture rainwater and ate pie and oranges in their vehicle. An autopsy of Knutson is being conducted by the Medical Examiner however foul play is not suspected, according to the Sheriff.
The tragedy serves as a lesson to all traveling in the backcountry. It’s wise to advise someone else of your intended route and any changes to the itinerary. Always carry water and an emergency supply of non-perishable food, as well as enough medication to last for a week or more.
Be sure cell phones are charged and have a cell phone charger for your car. Carry a device for signaling rescue planes or helicopters, such as a flashlight or mirror. Avoid signal flares, however. Remember, it was a lost hunter’s flare that started the devastating Cedar Fire.
Also carry blankets and jackets in case you have to spend a night—or several--in your vehicle.