Jeff Smith 7 a.m., March 30
Sheriff's department to seek reimbursement for search-and-rescue costs
Complaining of “ill-equipped and reckless hikers” that have tied up resources and sapped from the budget due to search-and-rescue operations, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department announced a new policy Friday (August 30) that henceforth, anyone requiring rescue due to illegal activity could be on the hook to reimburse authorities for the cost of said rescue.
Last July, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors amended a law to allow recovery of up to $12,000 for emergency costs related to the rescue of individuals who become lost or injured as a result of violating federal, state or local laws. These could include hikers that in recent months have become disoriented due to alcohol consumption, injured themselves due to illegal cliff diving at Cedar Creek Falls in East County’s back country, or individuals using a car to illegally cliff dive at Sunset Cliffs due to alcohol consumption.
Authorities are quick to remind residents that the rescue cost recovery only applies to those found to have broken the law, and that they do not intend to come after everyone who needs emergency services.
The Department reminds users of the backcountry, particularly in the grueling heat of late summer and early fall, to go prepared: take plenty of water and a GPS system on hikes (cell phone service can be spotty) and let others know where you’re going and when you’re expected to return. The sooner emergencies are reported, the less complicated the rescue process becomes.