Recovering hiker's body to be dangerous, delicate task - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Recovering hiker's body to be dangerous, delicate task

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San Diego (CBS8) - The body of a missing hiker is at the bottom of a mud cave in the Anza Borrego Desert. Rescue crews are now met with the difficult and dangerous task of removing Guillermo Pino Junior's body.    

Two days after his son's body was found at the bottom of a crevice in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park mud caves, Guillermo Pino made an urgent plea for industrial strength equipment to help in the recovery efforts.

"Anybody who has a vacuum cleaner or comparable technology that can suck loose dirt material from a distance of 30 to 50 feet, please call me, " Pino requested of CBS 8 viewers. He said, "We're in the process of extracting him from where he is. It's not easy-- we've been at it for 2 days and it hasn't happened yet."

24-year-old  Guillermo Pino, Jr. was found on Saturday, after his family members lowered a video camera down a crevice in the area of the caves where he disappeared on Easter Sunday, while on a hike with his family. His body, partially buried in what looks like loose mud and dirt, appeared well-preserved, and his family says it is undeniably Guillermo. 

Geology professor Dr. Pat Abbott knows the caves well and believes Guillermo likely stepped on a weak layer of mud that gave way below him. Dr. Abbott told News 8, "I suspect some of that rock broke, and fell with him. As he is falling down, the mud is falling down, then that dried or damp mud surrounds his body up to his ribs, and imprisons him-- traps him there where he can't climb out."

Dr. Abbott says the delicate and weak mud walls will make recovery of the body extremely difficult. Late Monday, the San Diego Sheriff's Department said it had exhausted its resources. Sheriff's spokesperson Jan Caldwell said, "The cave rescue team called out-- Shovels aren't working, other efforts aren't working, so they requested to pull out, and come to base camp." 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Mine Rescue Team is now being called to the scene to see if it can help. 

Meantime, Guillermo's father says he and his wife will not rest until their son's body is recovered. He told News 8, "We are in the process of getting Guillermo out of the desert. I appreciate everyone's prayers, everyone affected by this. Thanks again to all the people who've helped us, and there are countless, for all of your help physically, spiritually, and every possible way."

This is an update to a previous story:

ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK (CNS) - Efforts resumed Monday to recover a man's body found in a deep mud cave near where a college student went missing while exploring a rugged East County desert wilderness area nearly a month ago.

The remains were discovered a short distance from the last known whereabouts of 24-year-old Guillermo Pino, but it was not immediately clear if they were those of the UC San Diego psychology major, according to sheriff's officials.

Pino was reported missing April 8 while he and family members were exploring the Arroyo Tapiado area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, a locale also known as "the Badlands."

Family members who continued to search for him over the last four weeks reported finding the body Saturday evening, using a camera lowered about 60 feet down a shaft inside a mud cavern, according to sheriff's officials.

Deputies examined the video Sunday and sent in a cave expert who confirmed the presence of the body in the crevasse. Crews then tried in vain to access the body from underneath, due to the danger of trying to get to it from above in the unstable cavern.

State Parks officials planned to send a geologist to the site to determine if it would be safe for a recovery team to "respectfully and carefully" remove the body, according a statement from the sheriff's department.

About 30 people were aiding in the recovery effort, including deputies, firefighter, search-and-rescue volunteers, a sheriff's helicopter crew, American Red Cross personnel and cave experts from San Bernardino County.


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