Hiking events

His girlfriend suffered heat exhaustion while hiking; he died trying to get her help

(KTLA) – A Ventura, Calif. man was found dead in the mountains of southern Santa Barbara County on Thursday morning after a days-long search after he left his girlfriend for help when she started to suffer from heat exhaustion.

The body of Tim Sgrignoli, 29, was found around 9:30 a.m. Thursday near Gaviota State Park along Highway 101, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff‘s Office.

Sgrignoli was hiking with his girlfriend on Sunday when she began experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion, according to Capt. Scott Safechuck, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Sgrignoli left her behind for help, but was instead searched after Santa Barbara County fire crews located and rescued his girlfriend.

The two were hiking along Trespass Trail, a popular but challenging six-mile hike that winds through the hills above Gaviota. The trail offers ocean views, cave formations, and a hot spring along the way, making it popular with tourists, but it can also be easy to get lost.

For four days, law enforcement officers, search and rescue volunteers and county firefighters searched the mountains above Gaviota State Park in hopes of finding Sgrignoli.

The body of 29-year-old Tim Sgrignoli was found near Gaviota State Park along Highway 101 on September 8, 2022. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Authorities used all-terrain vehicles, scent-sniffing dogs and cadaver dogs to search for the missing man. They also investigated conflicting reports that he could have been seen walking down the highway and possibly picked up on the side of the road.

At least 60 people participated in the search and were assisted by both helicopters and unmanned drones, Safechuck said.

On Monday, Safechuck announced the search would come under the authority of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, though he didn’t say why.

At 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Raquel Zick, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, announced that Sgrignoli’s body had been found in an undisclosed location between the trail and the highway.

The cause of his death is under investigation, but Zick said foul play was not suspected.

Zick added that the heat was likely a contributing factor in his death. The temperature at the time he was reported missing was in the mid to high 90s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say heat-related illnesses can be prevented with proper preparation. Tips for preventing heat exhaustion and heatstroke include staying hydrated, staying informed of current conditions, and avoiding outdoor physical activities when temperatures are high.

For more tips, click here.

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