Motorcyclists Find Missing Elderly Men In Desert

Two elderly men who were stranded in the desert were saved thanks to the help of off-road motorcyclists.

Kern County Sheriff's Department deputies said that at about 9:40 p.m. Thursday, they received a call that there were possibly two missing, elderly males, in the Randsburg, Johannesburg area.

The family of 78-year-old William Kearns reported that he and his friend, Richard Helle, 85, left Hemet, Calif. at 4 a.m. in a red Chevy Silverado.

The men were enroute to the desert area to go gold prospecting for the day, deputies said.

The men did not return at their scheduled time and the family did not have contact with them, deputies said.

The men were reported to only have a small amount of food and water and Kearns was a diabetic with an unknown amount of insulin with him, deputies said.

Deputies from the Ridgecrest substation started a ground search of the area in the Randsburg Johannesburg area throughout the night and into Friday.

As the ground units were unable to locate the missing men, deputies used a helicopter to assist with the search. The ground units and helicopter were unable to locate the missing men.

At about 7 a.m. Saturday, Kern County Sheriff’s Office Off-Highway Vehicle Enforcement Team continued the search using off-highway motorcycles and 4X4 vehicles.

At about 8:15 a.m., a group of Ridgecrest residents out on a motorcycle ride discovered the two missing elderly men in the El Paso Mountain Wilderness area. The elderly subjects were stuck in a wash near EP11 and EP148.

The motorcyclists notified the sheriff’s office and stayed with the elderly men.

Due to the rugged terrain, the deputies said they used a 4X4 vehicle to transport Kearns and Helle.

The men were driven to a staging point and turned over to Kern County Fire Department and Liberty Ambulance. Kearns and Helle were taken to the Ridgecrest Hospital where they were treated and later released.

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