Update: Corona mountain biker found dead after being lost overnight

This is why you don’t ride off road in threatening weather.

Word broke last night that a bike rider was lost in the Cleveland National Forest above Corona; today rescuers found 34-year old Corona resident Andres Marin’s body North Main Divide Road in Orange County.

Weather Saturday’s severe storms played a role in his death was unclear, however, they delayed rescue attempts by 12 hours until conditions improved.

According to the Press-Enterprise, Marin had gone out for an 18-mile ride on the Skyline Trail above Corona, intending to return home Saturday afternoon — tragically, to celebrate his birthday.

Unfortunately, he failed to return.

The paper reports that his wife posted on Facebook that he called around 5:15 pm, saying he was injured and didn’t know where he was. She said his words sounded slurred and he seemed disoriented.

The Temecula Grapevine website says he was going to try to make it out of the mountains before dark. When he did not return, a search was initiated at 5:45 pm.

Using trail maps and cellular towers, rescuers were able to identify his probable location as the southwest side of the Skyline Trail, according to the Riverside County Sheriffs Department. Unfortunately, that could not be confirmed, and attempts to contact Marin were unsuccessful.

Bad weather kept rescuers from accessing the trail and prevented the use of helicopters. However, by 6 am Sunday, weather conditions had improved enough to allow a search to begin.

Unfortunately, Marin’s body was found around 10 am on an Orange County Section of North Main Divide Road; no cause of death was reported pending further investigation.

According to his Facebook page, Marin died just 17 days before his 14th anniversary; he leaves behind four children.

This is the 19th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 4th in Orange County already this year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Andres Marin and all his family. 

Update: As Anthony Ryan pointed out, it is also unwise to hike or bike in the backcountry alone. A riding partner can often help you get out safely or go for help if something goes wrong.

Update 2: The Press-Enterprise has updated their story to say Marin had left at 7 am Saturday on an 88-mile ride, which his wife said he had done before, rather than the 18-miler initially reported. 

In addition, she reports authorities were initially confident Marin would survive the night, despite his thin riding clothes and lack of food. Hypothermia is the suspected cause of death, likely due to being caught in the heavy rain overnight.

Update 3: The Press-Enterprise quotes Marin’s wife, Christyna Arista, as saying she was angry about the delay in rescuers going out to look for Marin. 

According to the paper, Arista and a group of volunteers set out at 3:45 am to look for him, against the advice of sheriff’s deputies. Another volunteer found Marin’s purple-hued body, still seated on his bike leaning against a hillside, with his feet on the pedals.

Sheriff’s officials explained their decision to wait based on adverse conditions.

Sheriff’s Lt. Zach Hall said ideally, the department would have sent a helicopter to follow the approximately 53-mile route that Marin, 34, had planned to follow along Skyline Trail, Main Divide Road and Indian Truck Trail.

But the steady rain that night prevented the helicopter from flying, Hall said. Rescuers also ruled out using motorized vehicles that normally would be able to navigate the dirt road because Friday’s heavy rain left the clay soil too slick. The conditions also made hiking to wherever Marin might have been dangerous.

“We could have set up ourselves for a self-rescue. I would not have sent people up there to get hurt,” Hall said.

His wife also confirms that Marin told her he had fallen; while he was found with just minor cuts and scratches, her description that he was lost and slurring his words during the call suggests a significant head injury.

The paper reports Marin had just bought the bike he died on two weeks earlier, and there was no discussion of postponing the trip — even though an employee at a local bike shop said the route, with a 4,000 foot elevation gain, would have been unridable after Friday’s storm.

Update 4: Marin’s wife, Christyna Arista, invites everyone to view her Facebook page to keep up with the latest information. And a fund has been established to contribute to the family in their hour of need.

29 comments

  1. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of Mr. Marin.

  2. ValleyBall1 says:

    God bless his family; four kids and a wife – so sad! He left ~7am on Saturday when the weather wasn’t that bad in OC but it definitely got worse throughout the day. If you can, try and ride in pairs folks!

  3. Jeremiah says:

    There are some conflicting reports on the distance of the ride he was attempting. Some say 18 but others say 88. I have ridden these Mountains many times and it is about 25 miles from the bottom of Skyline to Sierra peak. It is more likely that he was attempting something epic like 88 miles but I’m not sure what his complete loop would have been…possibly down Indian truck trail and back to corona via Temescal canyon rd. Some reports also say he attempted it with no food….Unfortunately it sounds like he was ill prepared and the weather complicated the situation. It’s very sad.

  4. […] lived in Corona, California just down the street for a trailhead into Cleveland National Forest where a mountain biker lost his life when he was caught out in the […]

  5. ValleyBall1 says:

    Thanks Lois. I know many, including myself, love birthday rides and he was headed for an epic one to Santiago Peak; some pretty killer views up there but it’s a tough ride in dry conditions – can’t imagine the conditions he had to ride through. God bless his family. My heart hurts.

  6. Lois says:

    I can recall a couple of times that I have had one of those “well, I’ve had a good life” moments up there, when the weather has gotten crazy bad with no warning, but there are so many different escape routes…

  7. grrlyrida says:

    I heard this last night on the news. I was hoping he’d ride out the night and they would find him suffering from a little hypothermia. I was shocked and saddened to discover that they found him dead. My prayers go out to him and his family. This is so sad. I just followed the link and saw pictures of him and his bike. Tragic.

    • ValleyBall1 says:

      I saw the pics too, which really saddened me. Dads need that time alone on our bikes to refocus, exercise, etc. but it is a risky sport and the last thing we want to do is leave our families. Mountain weather is dynamic to begin with; then throw in inclement weather and it can be darn right scary. God bless the Marin family.I am heartbroken for them…

  8. ARD says:

    Condolences to his spouse and children. The first line of this post is in pretty poor taste.

    • bikinginla says:

      Let’s see. Solo rider dies in inclement weather, most likely due to hypothermia. You’re right, let’s encourage more cyclists to go out alone in conditions like that.

      • Jeremiah says:

        I agree, Yes a man lost his life and we need to be respectful of that. However, it doesn’t hurt to point out the mistakes he made so that we don’t make the same ones. Don’t ride alone…if you do ride alone be prepared…. take food, water, emergency blanket, plb,etc. This could have easily been avoided with a simple 2oz emergency blanket.

      • bikinginla says:

        Let me take another shot at that answer now that I’m more awake.

        I don’t think it shows any disrespect to the victim — which is what I believe you’re suggesting — to say he may have made an error in judgment in going out under those conditions. I’ve made the same mistake on more than one occasion, and learned the hard way not to go out under certain circumstances.

        The aftermath of a heavy storm usually leaves mountain trail and roadways soft and covered in mud and other debris that can make normally safe trails hazardous — and often with no obvious warning. I’ve also gone out in advance of an oncoming storm, and found myself lying in a water-filled gully as lightening crashed around me and tornadoes swirled on the horizon because I was delayed by a mechanical.

        I understand the desire to take advantage of a break in the weather to squeeze in a ride, especially on his birthday. But as this tragedy clear illustrates, it’s always prudent to go out prepared for the unexpected. Or better yet, put your ride off until the situation improves.

        • ARD says:

          I think the first line of this post is trying to be pithy, but it seems pretty light and casual in tone for something that’s obviously tragic for his wife and family. How would you feel if you read something like this for a loved one who died? The tone seems more appropriate for a funny story with a happy ending, not something horrible like this.

          Please don’t take this as a personal attack- love the website/blog and obviously appreciate that you are a huge cycling advocate and no doubt a good person. While the lesson is important for all of us, the tone of the first line just seemed like it could come across as a little insensitive to his family. Thank you.

  9. Richard says:

    The latest is that Marin’s wife is blaming the authorities for not starting rescue efforts sooner–despite the stormy weather that may have put the rescuers in jeopardy themselves. Unbelievable.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-dead-mountain-biker-wife-angry-20140304,0,6946776.story#axzz2v1t9qbxk

    • Moon Beam says:

      My condolences the family and friends.
      Well I wouldn’t call it unbelievable considering losing a loved one. I spent an hour looking at the google map trail of the area — didn’t know that areas’ trails are claylike when wet. It sounds like something I would’ve done –minus the cellphone don’t gone one. All in all — tragic. It sounds like the rider wanted to achieve a goal before his birthday. I think we all know our limits but a drill sergeant once told me when faced with lofty goals or attempting something that may seem out of one’s limits, “Let your conscious be your guide”. Before my 50 birthday I attempted a six mile swim but forgot my drinking water and gel pack, so I did 3.2 mile– I got of the water and felt like a ‘raisin’ dehydrated yet very weak. Terrible feeling but it goes back to knowing ones limits. I shouldn’t of done the swim period.

  10. I want to thank everyone for all of your condolences and prayers, if you want to help in any way please do so. My Facebook is open and welcomed by all.

    • ValleyBall1 says:

      God bless you, Christyna, and your family. I pray with my 2 year old every night and have included Andres and your family in our prayers since Saturday.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Christyna. So many times something similar could have happened to me, and so many others out there. My heart goes out to you and all your family. I have no doubt Andres did everything he could to get back to you.

      The link you gave to your Facebook page was broken, but I think I’ve fixed it for you.

  11. ValleyBall1 says:

    Funeral is set for tomorrow (3/8/14); donation site and additional information are located here:

    http://www.gofundme.com/andres-marin

  12. Geoff says:

    I think the only ‘head injury’ here was hypothermia. People are under-estimating what advanced hypothermia can do, and how little it takes to lose thermal regulation. Even mild hypothermia affects motor control and agility, and at advanced stages it causes an altered level of consciousness, poor judgment and executive function, and sometimes even hallucination. The slurred and slow speech, the need to repeat things twice during the phone call are telltale signs of advancing hypothermia. He probably slipped and fell a bunch – hence, the mostly superficial scrapes. But those are likely to be secondary to the hypothermia. It would be a death in vain if we didn’t take the right lessons from this incident – go with a riding partner if you can; in all cases, pack a small Camelback with a map/compass, adequate clothing, a tiny fold-up emergency blanket (even a trash bag will help) water/food, etc.; don’t expect a cell phone to save you; don’t expect a rescue in foul weather. And the most critical food for thought: just because you’ve done something before does not mean you did it right or safely. It might only mean you’ve been lucky. And luck is fickle …

    • bikinginla says:

      No argument. The lesson I’ve learned from this is to always carry an emergency blanket, which could come in handy even riding down here on the coast in event of serious injury.

      I’m buying one the first chance I get and adding it to my first aid kit.

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