SHERIFF BEGINS CHARGING SEARCH AND RESCUE FEES FOR THOSE WHO BREAK THE LAW

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Safety tips also offered for hikers this Labor Day weekend

By Miriam Raftery

August 30, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- Starting  today, August 30th,  you could be billed for emergency costs if you become lost or injured as a result of violating federal, state or local laws.

An  amended County ordinance allows for a civil process to collect up to $12,000 in recovery expenses. Law breakers can also be arrested or cited for criminal offenses. The fees only apply to those who break the law, such as a rescue operation due to illegal drinking , diving or hiking where prohibited.

Every year, dozens of people are lost or injured in San Diego County's vast back country. Ill‐equipped and reckless hikers put a strain on Sheriff's Department resources and budget. When deputies and ASTREA are tied up in a Search and Rescue call, they are not able to respond to other emergencies or follow up in their own investigations.

In July of 2013, the Board of Supervisors amended San Diego County Ordinance 364.1 to allow for ther eimbursement of costs during Search and Rescue operations.

If you have an emergency don't wait to call 9‐1‐1. The longer you wait, the more difficult the rescue becomes.

Remember, permits are required to visit Cedar Creek Falls in the East County. Alcohol and cliff jumping are not allowed. Watch the Sheriff's Department's public safety messages on YouTube: http://goo.gl/IDJHIW , http://goo.gl/cJBWwl.

With the Labor Day weekend and the weather being so warm, here are other safety tips:

  • Tell someone you are going hiking or caving, where it is located and when you expect to return. This is to ensure if something goes wrong and you don't return on time, someone knows where to begin the search.
  • Never go caving or hiking alone.
  •  Know your limits. Choose trails that match your level of physical fitness and areas where you are not going to get lost.
  •  Bring ample food, water, sunscreen, flashlight, map, GPS, first aid kit, multi‐purpose tool or knife, whistle.
  •  Cell phone signal may be limited, but it's still good to have a phone in case you need to call for help.
  •  Wear proper clothing, boots, sunglasses, hat, gloves, helmet, etc.