Story by Pauline Repard Tuesday, April 17, 2012
EAST COUNTY — Sheriff’s search and rescue volunteers have suspended their search for a 25-year-old San Diego man apparently lost amid the barren Anza-Borrego Desert mud caves since Easter.
Guillermo Piño Jr., 25, had been exploring caves with one of his two sisters, her husband, and two friends when he went off by himself, barefoot and not carrying water or a cellphone, sheriff’s officials said.
The caves are near Arroyo Tapiado, a desolate region east of Canebrake and Vallecito Creek off county road S-2.
The family searched on their own for several hours, then reported him missing the evening of April 8. Scores of trained searchers from several Southern California counties, outdoor enthusiasts and friends spent most of the daylight hours since then scouring caves, canyons and washes for a sign of Piño.
“A search is never really cancelled until we find the person,” sheriff’s search and rescue team Sgt. Don Parker said Tuesday. “It’s suspended until we have more information about when we can search in a better location and in a better way.”
Parker said his unit’s involvement was suspended on Sunday, but some deputies will search periodically when they can. A team of San Bernardino County sheriff’s search and rescue volunteers combed one more area on Monday.
The ground search covered more than 60 square miles and helicopters covered 80 square miles, but concentrated on a smaller area in the center, Parker said.