Heat Exhaustion Got to Her. He Went for Help, Never Returned

Body of Tim Sgrignoli, 29, found 4 days after hike with girlfriend in sweltering California mountains
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2022 8:57 AM CDT
Heat Exhaustion Got to Her. He Went for Help, Never Returned
Stock photo of Gaviota State Park.   (Getty Images/John Mantegna)

The alerts from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department began late Sunday, noting the rescue of a female hiker suffering from mild heat exhaustion in the mountains over Gaviota, California, per NBC News. The initial post in that series of tweets from Scott Safechuck reported that the "search continues for boyfriend who went to get water & help." On Thursday night, a grim update came via Raquel Zick, a rep for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office: The boyfriend, IDed as 29-year-old Tim Sgrignoli of Ventura, had been found dead near a trail between Highway 101 and Trespass Trail, which KTLA notes is a "challenging" 6-mile path that can "be easy to get lost on."

"Cause and manner of death are pending," Zick's post noted, adding that foul play isn't thought to have played a part, and that "heat is likely a contributing factor." Safechuck says the couple had set off on their hike near Gaviota Peak, in the Santa Ynez Mountains, earlier Sunday, but at some point, Sgrignoli's girlfriend started feeling the effects of heat exhaustion. Per the Santa Barbara Independent, Sgrignoli left his cellphone with her and went for help. He never returned, and his girlfriend eventually moved to an area where she was able to find cellphone service and call for help.

By the time the girlfriend was found and rescued by helicopter, and a search for Sgrignoli was launched, temps had soared to 114 degrees, Safechuck says. For four days, dozens of law enforcement officials, county fire personnel, and volunteers, as well as search dogs, scoured the landscape for the missing man. ATVs were used in the search, as were helicopters and unmanned drones, per Safechuck. Commander Erik Raney of the sheriff's office says Sgrignoli's body was found just 20 feet from the highway. "This was a really sad outcome for all of us," he says. It's not known what the condition of Sgrignoli's girlfriend is. An investigation into Sgrignoli's death is ongoing. (More hiker death stories.)

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