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.