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Stranded Arroyo Seco hiker speaks out on getting rescued

GREENFIELD, Calif. - A family stranded in the middle of the Los Padres National Forest gets rescued through a pair of hikers and what they found floating down the Arroyo Seco River in a water bottle. 

This all happened back in June during Father's Day weekend around the Arroyo Seco Campgrounds area in the Los Padres National Forest just west of Greenfield.

"Oh yeah, I feel very lucky," said Curtis Whitson, who was one of the rescued in June. "I don't think this kind of thing happens to virtually anybody."

Whitson, his teenage son and his girlfriend went down to the Arroyo Seco River that weekend to go backpacking, but they hit a snag along the way. 

"We came to the waterfall and knew immediately that it was not what we wanted to see in regards to the water levels," said Whitson. 

He says they could not turn back or climb over the rocks. Stranded and with no cell service, they tried yelling for help to people nearby, but it was no use. Whitson had an idea, however. 

"In looking around, I saw my water bottle and decided I would use that as a note to get to these guys," he said. "We found a pen and paper, wrote a quick note, then dated it. Then threw it quickly over the water fall."

The note, written on a bar order pad, read: "WE ARE STUCK HERE AT THE WATERFALL. GET HELP PLEASE."

They also carved "HELP" on the side of the lime green water bottle. After sleeping the night, the family woke up to the sound of a CHP helicopter. 

"It was just kind of like the stars all aligning for things to work out the way that they did," said Whitson. 

"Well, my reaction is I'm really glad that they were saved, and the message in the bottle is pretty incredible," said Michael Carno, who was camping at Arroyo Seco on Wednesday. "Like I said, that's a song. Maybe they could thank Sting for that one."

Turns out, a couple of hikers found the message in the bottle floating in the river, and they trekked on foot to the campgrounds where they notified authorities. 

CHP had found Whitson and the group a few hours after the hikers took the note back to the camp, and they rescued them the next morning. 

The family now wants to find the hikers who saved them and thank them for what they did. 


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