Fourth-year College Ten student John Paul Chaufan Field was found by a Yosemite National Park helicopter on Monday after he was reported missing two days earlier.
Chaufan, 22, was on a backpacking trip organized by the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS) Recreation Program with 11 other UC Santa Cruz students.
It was just before the group left camp near Kibbie Lake on Saturday at around 11 a.m. when backpackers noticed that Field was absent from the group during a headcount. When they returned from a short hike an hour later, Field was still unaccounted for.
According to a press release issued by Yosemite Parks, Field was found at approximately 3:15 p.m. on Monday about five miles east of the group’s campsite by Kibbie Lake, where Field was last seen by his companions before he was reported missing.
UCSC director of information Jim Burns said one of two student leaders on the trip who had previously spent time in the wilderness alongside Field stayed behind in Yosemite when other students on the trip returned Sunday night.
The student leader was able to provide search teams with insight based on his previous experience with Field.
Rescue efforts were conducted by approximately 50 people, including personnel from Search and Rescue Teams based in Yosemite National Park, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Monterey County and the Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit. Two helicopters, one from Yosemite Park and another from the California Highway Patrol also assisted in the search.
Burns said students who participate in school-sponsored camping trips are well-instructed on safety and wilderness protocol before embarking.
“The students on these kinds of trips are given quite a bit of advice,” Burns said, “particularly two things while in the wilderness: Don’t leave the group without checking in with one of the two student leaders in the group, and always travel in pairs.”