The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office received a request on Jan. 12 at 11:03 a.m. from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for assistance in searching for two missing persons possibly in El Dorado County.
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Deputies from Santa Clara had received a missing persons report for John Hearne, 70, of Lost Altos, and his sister Sally Shanks, 66, of Walnut Creek after they failed to return home, a press release stated. They were known to frequent Alpine, Amador and El Dorado counties and were planning a day snowmobile trip. They had, however, neglected to leave any specific information as to their whereabouts. Both were described to deputies as experienced and prepared for harsh weather, below-zero temperatures and deep snow.
Sally Shanks’ vehicle was located by Amador County Sheriff’s Deputies around 11:43 a.m. at the old Iron Mountain Ski Resort at Iron Mountain Road and Highway 88 in El Dorado County.
Deputies were joined by search and rescue volunteers from Alpine, Amador and El Dorado counties and began searching the area. CHP Air Operations Helicopter 24 joined, but no sign of the missing parties was found.
EDSO requested CALSTAR 6 assistance. The volunteer-staffed air ambulance, equipped with night vision goggles, joined the search. The helicopter found two snowmobiles buried in the snow northeast of Bear River Reservoir around 7 p.m. Following foot tracks from the snowmobiles led to the subjects about four air miles away.
CALSTAR 6 rescued Hearne and Shanks around 7:18 p.m. Both were suffering from hypothermia and frostbite. As of Jan. 13, they were still hospitalized for treatment.
EDSO credited the CALSTAR 6 crew for rescuing Hearne and Shanks, stating that it was likely that the two would not have survived another night had they not been found.