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John Bitting

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I read in the paper this morning about an 18 year old Irvine boy passing away this weekend when his car broke down and he went to look for help in Lucerne. Carry tons of water and snacks with you guys for these outings. I was very saddened to read this.

Irvine man dies in Johnson Valley desert


The Orange County Register



An 18-year old Irvine man died late Saturday in the desert while trying to get help for his father after their car got stuck.



Al Spellmire was camping with his father in the Johnson Valley off-road vehicle recreation area in rural Landers, San Bernardino Coroner's officials said Sunday. The father was not identified.

The rugged terrain features steep rocky mountains and sandy washes.

The two ran out of water, could not reach help on their cell phone and tried to hike out. The son left his father behind and went ahead, authorities said. A few hours later, the father found his son's body. He tried to revive him, but could not.

He hiked out and contacted authorities. Rescue personnel found the body at 11:15 p.m.

A cause of death was not known. An autopsy is expected today. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is investigating the death.

The family could not be reached for comment.
 

Dillon

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To piggyback on this, its especially vital that you have water with you at all times. I went through USAF Survival School and we learned to make water from all kinds of crazy situations using real world and combat situations. Just a few tips for desert climate.

- Don't leave your truck, stay by it, its bigger then you are and shiny, you'd be surprised how much a bright red shirt can blend in with ANY terrain when viewed from an aircraft or even just a park ranger
- Try and drink 2 liters of water a day anyways, more in the heat
- If you are thirsty, the jigs up, you are already dehydrated
- If you feel hungry but have eaten fairly recently(6 hours or so), you are dehydrated

If you are stranded and the situation is getting really grim
- You have shelter under the truck, its cooler under there and helps
- If you can find plastic bags, wrap them around trees/cacti in the morning and tie them, water will evaporate into the bags and line it, you won't get much water, but none is better then nothing
- heres a nasty one we had to try out near Vegas (Nellis AFB); dig a hole with whatever about 6 inches deep, a foot in diameter, try and line the hole with green leaves or parts of cacti and piss in the hole. Next place plastic over the hole and check back 12 hours later, you can get about a cup of water in two days doing this, the water that evaporates will be fine to drink, just overcome the fact that it came from your piss
- DO NOT DRINK URINE no matter how desperate you are, lots of sailors who get stuck in the ocean do this and it'll kill you, the urine itself isn't bad (its sterile) but it will not hydrate you

Hope this helps someone...
 

Dave_G

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Dillon,
Another suggestion is that anyone traveling into the desert should have a personal EPIRB or ELT with them. They are now legal to use in the United states as of July 1st of this year.

Don't leave home without it.
 

frankh

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Don't go out in that kind of heat with only one car, the buddy system
 

havahockey

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ABC 7 just had the story on the news about an hour ago. Looks like they took out an older Nissan sedan to offroad and it got stuck in the sand. Both were hiking together to get back to camp, father had to stop so the son went on to get him water, father started walking back again and came across his son dead.
 

Dave_G

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Klaus,
This is more what I was refering to. They are PLB's.....kind of the same as an ELT or EPIRB.

http://www.equippedtosurvive.org/plb_legal.htm

This is also a great web page to visit for survival gear reviews and techniques. Doug Ritter is a personal friend and fellow aviation enthusiast who runs this non-profit organization and I would encourage anyone who is interested in not becoming a "statistic" to check it out.

http://www.equippedtosurvive.org

Dave
 

THNKPNK

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Just my $0.02,

I may not be catchin the entire story here but, why would you take a Nissan sedan off-road in lucerne---especially ALONE?? Where's the common sense in that? (Kinda like those poor victims that PLACE themselves in those dark alleyways at night...then they wonder 'why did this happen to me'...)
Cars just aren't made for off-roading---okay, MINUS "the general"


<font color="pink">CU OFRD </font color>
 

Crashbig

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Could have been a datsun 510 turned rally, really the only Nissan/datsun sedan type that I can think of being out there , but why this time of year and why alone. Major bummer for them.
For everyone else doing night runs this summer play it safe and don't go out there alone.
 

drtdevil93

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wow. maybe they were ignorant, but its still a horrible thing to have happened. for the father to walk along and find his son dead, and have to leave him there to make it out. unimaginable how hard that must have been. how i see it, the temp was 115 in the area, you dont have time to wait half a day for water. the amount they could have gotten in that time wouldnt have replaced how much they lost while waiting for it. without bottled water, they didnt have a chance. when im out in that kind of heat, i need to drink about a gallon a day, and i usually drink more than that. honestly, its amazing how quickly you can die without water.

erik
 

martininsocal

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Man- it sucks when you think opf the way he died...Heat stroke would be a horrible way(getting there, once your there, I don't think you are aware of what is going on). People underestimate the desert and heat all the time. These two were camping out by Landers when they decided it would be fun to offroad a bit. The car got stuck, they began walking, the Dad stopped and the kid went on. Later the Dad came across the body. I spent Friday fealing with 7 hikers coming down the PCT into Snow Creek without water. They left their camp at 6am that morning with 1 liter of water each and figured they would beat the heat down the 12+ mile hike. These were experienced hikers and one was a firefighter! They ran out of water 2 hours in(it was 114 in Snow Creek when we set up our base) and 1 made it down the hill to contact us and tell us where the others were. Fortunately we were able to access them with helicopters(we were starting to hike water stokes baskets up to bring down the ones who couldn't go on)after being told the helicopters couldn't get to them. I will be real honest, we have to work in that heat and not a single one of us was looking forward to trying to access these guys, it was too hot! They broke many of the rules when out in these places, but here are some to remember-
Stay with the vehicle or stay in your group and stay in one place! Leaving shelter and scattering only makes it that much harder to locate you.
Take plenty of water! Don't ever count on finding it. These guys planned on filtering creek water...in the desert...in July...GOOD PLAN! When it is hot and you are working(hiking, etc...) plan on a quart every 15-30 minutes. Also- Move at night and in the morning. Find some shade when the sun is high and rest! Look at the calendar and go when there is a full moon. Lastly- tell someone where your going, when you expect to be back, and the routes you will be travelling, it makes the search that much easier.
 

pjc

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Good idea Dave! I am gonna look into an EPIRB. I simply will not get into any ocean vessel that does not have one. Having one for land use is a solid idea know that it's okay to use them for that.

As for cell phones, a good off-roader should not carry anything but a Verizon or AT&amp;T cell phone. Both operate in the original 850mghz cellular band and almost all of the Mojave is covered with service.

Do not buy:

Nextel
Sprint PCS
T-Mobile
Cingular Mobile
AT&amp;T M-Mode

None of these work worth a damn away from the major highways or cities and most operate at 1900mghz with less power.

Globalstar Satphones are superb safety devices if you can afford them.
 

pjc

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Good stuff Dave. I just spread the word over to baja.net.

BTW, will anyone resond to a PLB signal in Baja?

The Coast Guard does respond to EPIRB signals off and in th waters of Baja.
 

Dave_G

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RE :"BTW, will anyone resond to a PLB signal in Baja?"

Pat,
Not really sure about that. Here in the states it gets reported to the local Sheriff's dept who are in charge of Search &amp; Rescue. The nice thing about the new PLB's is that the 406mhz signal can get the satellite to pin point a position within a few hundred feet on the first pass. Much better than the old 121.5mhz signal. I can usually find a 121.5 mhz ELT/ EPIRB with my airplane by doing what's called wing shadowing in about one hour but it's a meticilous process and takes time. Some of the new PLB's have a NMEA input port to connect your hand held GPS so it can transmit the Lat Lon coordinate of your position.

Ain't technology beautiful ? ;-)

Dave
 

bajaboy

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This is very true ! I've had practically all cell services and only Verizon and AT&amp;T work in Baja. To my suprise , I found out that Verizon even worked in the middle of Matomi Wash. Verizon states that their phone will work in mainland Mexico , thats far enough for me !

Bajaboy
 

Kritter

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AT&amp;T and Verizon have had there gameface on in the cell industry for over 20 years...therefore they are gonna own the most cell sites and offer the best coverage, hands down.
 

Jordan

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Verizon has 4500 more cell sites than AT&amp;T according to inside info I learned when I worked for their corporate headquarters. So yes they are close. However, I am going to move from Sprint PCS to AT&amp;T this weekend. Most of my friends that have AT&amp;T there phones work everywhere and usually most places in the desert.
 

pjc

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4500 more?

Sounds like creative marketing.

The fact of the matter is that in any single market, AT&amp;T has more cell towers simply because the technology they use "TDMA" requires more sites than what Verison uses for their air interface technology (layer 1 to you data geeks) , i.e. "CDMA".

I know that in Vegas, Verizon does not have as good of coverage as AT&amp;T.

In LA where I worked for the predecesor of Verizon for a number of years, LA Cellular (predecesor to AT&amp;T Wireless), spanked us soundly on coverage and service.
 
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