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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.

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JustWondering Sept. 3, 2013 @ 7:32 a.m.

This is a good move in the right direction!

The county should also post signs in areas where this happens all to frequentlently. While there is no doubt in my mind the signs will be vandalized they will remind those who are irresponsible there are consequences, i.e. they will be held financially accountable to the taxpayers who rescue their a$$es.


Visduh Sept. 3, 2013 @ 12:53 p.m.

If I ever required rescue that I could have avoided with better planning, I'd expect to have to pay for the help. A rescue that was needed because of an accident or illness is something else, and I'm not sure that it would demand payment. But the bar in this story is high, requiring obvious criminal conduct that brought about the need to be rescued. How often will the county invoke it to ask for reimbursement? Not often, or at all, I'd guess. Probably another of those laws enacted to play to the voters with little or no intention of enforcing it.


CaptainObvious Sept. 4, 2013 @ 12:17 a.m.

This is America! You can't make us accountable for our actions! I suppose next they will blame drivers for crashes and people for violence.


JustWondering Sept. 4, 2013 @ 9:12 a.m.

Sadly Captain, your statement is truer than you may believe.

The era of self reliance and accountability has come to an end. Nowadays it all about me me me. From endless Facebook narcissism to government redistribution of anything it can and will to those who just take, take, and then take some more.

I hope the County follows through with this cost recovery policy.


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