By Laura Brown
Triplicate staff writer
Rescuers combed wooded areas on Low Divide Road yesterday, searching for a man whos been lost since becoming separated from a group of mushroom pickers Tuesday.
Shawn Bagget, 52, Klamath, was last seen between 2 and 4 p.m., Nov. 26. He was wearing blue jeans, a green sweatshirt, green ballcap and high boots.
Since his disappearance, storms have raged across the region and search-and-rescue agencies from Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Marin and San Mateo County, as well as a Coast Guard helicopter from McKinleyville have been scouring the dense manzanita and pine forests where Bagget was last seen.
We are searching about a two-to-three square-mile area, said Terry McNamara of Del Norte Search and Rescue. We started this Tuesday night at about 9:30.
The sun shone brightly, but a chill hung in the air and the temperature was at 42 degrees at noon yesterday. A generator hummed, supplying the Sheriffs search-and-rescue bus with power for communications systems and a computer.
If clues show up well probably keep on searching, said McNamara.
Searchers did report finding some socks yesterday and the location was plotted on a map. They were found nearby the PLS (point last seen).
Police said Bagget is new to Del Norte County and this was his first time in the Low Divide location. He is described as being somewhat woodwise by his girlfriend but he had no survival equipment, no food, water or means of making a fire. He does not have any known medical problems.
The Coast Guard helicopter from McKinleyville searched several hours Tuesday and Wednesday and four hours yesterday morning with no sign of the lost man.
We had the Coast Guard helicopter for a time, but the weather was too severe for the helicopter to stay up for any length of time. Given the weather last night and the night before, there wasnt a lot we could do, said Commander Toni Luis of the Del Norte County Sheriffs office yesterday morning.
A two-dog team is being used along with 30 searchers. A helicopter from Reddings CHP airlift is willing to help, but has been delayed due to weather problems.
Local businesses have contributed to the search. Townhouse Motel has given free housing to 11 searchers for two nights and Apple Peddler Restaurant has donated free food.
A red-eyed woman, said to be Baggets girlfriend, was on the scene yesterday, but too distraught to comment.
We get about 35 calls a year, said McNamara. Of those calls some are lost children in town, others are recreational kayakers or swimmers. Only a small portion are missing people. This type of operation, a multi-day, intense agency search only happens about once a year, said McNamara.
McNamara has words of caution for anyone planning a day hike in the woods. Go prepared for the conditions. He said to carry a daypack with water, food, a poncho if necessary, a compass and a means of making heat. Most important is to tell someone where you are going and go there. He added that once lost, it is important to make a lot of noise and stay put.
Every hour the likelihood of survival looked more grim yesterday, but McNamara remained optimistic and said temperature, wind and weather conditions and the individuals mental outlook all will make a difference. A medical doctor, EMTs and first responders are available for needed medical attention once the man is found.
At least one search member is posted 24-hours at the makeshift headquarters, just in case Bagget finds his way back to the road. If hes still mobile he should have, by now, walked out to Highway 199 because all drainage goes out to that area.