Emigrant Wilderness, CA…On Monday evening,10/17/16 just after 6 PM, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of three overdue hikers.Steven Morales, Christine Ricks and Venu Aruva were on a backpacking trip in the Emigrant Wilderness and planned to return home on Sunday, 10/16/16. When Steven did not return from the trip his son notified the Sheriff’s Office. The three planned to obtain a wilderness permit prior to entering the wilderness so dispatch contacted the US Forest Service. A permit was on file under Christine Ricks and there were three people in her party. The permit was obtained on 10/12/16 with a planned entry date of 10/13/16, and exit date of 10/16/16. The trail head they were leaving from and returning to was Kennedy Meadows and their destination was Sheep Camp. Steven is described as an avid hiker with no significant health problems. He belongs to a hiking club which is internet based. Steven often hikes with both Christine and Venu.
Dispatch talked to the owner of Kennedy Meadows, who said he spoke to the group before they began their hike. They left their vehicle at the resort and told him they had planned to hike to Emigrant Lake. They also mentioned stopping at Relief Reservoir.
During their trip a significant weather system hit the area. Heavy rains, snow, lightning storms and wind that would have greatly impacted their trip.
Last night around 10:30 PM the Deputy located Steven’s Honda CRV parked at Kennedy Meadows resort. The Deputy left a note on the vehicle advising the group they had been reported as overdue and to contact the Sheriff’s Office once they return. The caretaker of the resort said the vehicle had been left since Thursday, 10/13/16 and they had not spoken to the occupants of the vehicle. The caretaker also advised the weather over the weekend caused the Stanislaus River to become extremely muddy with a rise of approximately 3 feet. The increase of water flow was greater than any storm they had seen during this time of year.
The Tuolumne County Search and Rescue Team were notified and responded to the area. This morning a search is ongoing for the three hikers. Cal Fire Helicopter 404 will be in the air assisting in the search.
Below you will find several pictures of Steven, Christine and Venu. Please call the Sheriff’s Office at 209-533-5815 if you have seen them or have any information of the whereabouts.
Steven Morales-from San Jose
62 Years Old
Christine Ricks- from Menlo Park
46 Years Old
Venu Aruva- from Sunnyvale
32 Years Old