HomeAmericasCommunity78-Year-Old CA Hiker Missing For Two Nights, Found Safe

78-Year-Old CA Hiker Missing For Two Nights, Found Safe

78-Year-Old CA Hiker Missing For Two Nights, Found Safe

Photo: Ventura County Sheriff Office

India-West News Desk

VALENCIA, CA – A 78-year-old hiker who had gone missing over the weekend in the wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest has been located safe and sound, after enduring two nights alone in the wilderness.

Balaji Keshava, an experienced hiker, became separated from his group while on a hike in the Chumash Wilderness near Sawmill Mountain.

Keshava embarked on his hiking adventure on the morning of August 5, along with a group of fellow outdoor enthusiasts. However, as the day progressed, he inadvertently lost contact with the group. A comprehensive search operation was launched the same night by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, spanning across the rugged terrain of the Chumash Wilderness.

They immediately let it be known that the missing Indian American was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 165 pounds and that he was wearing a white t-shirt, gray shorts, black shoes, and was carrying a blue backpack along with trekking poles.

With the diligent efforts of search and rescue teams, and utilizing county air support resources, Keshava was discovered on the morning of August 7, near Sawmill Mountain.

Delighted friends sent this image to India-West of Keshava as he was seated in the rescue helicopter

Captain Dean Worthy of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office reported that Keshava was airlifted by a county air support helicopter to a hospital in Newhall for evaluation. Fortunately, Keshava was found to be in fair condition, despite his two-night ordeal , and was released the same night. He was at home recuperating. 

Keshava’s survival was attributed to his prior experience as a hiker and his preparation. He had carried food and water with him, which undoubtedly played a pivotal role in his ability to withstand the challenging conditions of the wilderness. His experience likely contributed to his ability to navigate and sustain himself during the time he spent lost in the forest. 

A retired engineer, friends told India-West that Keshava is also an avid tennis player and marathon runner. His late wife was a psychiatrist and their only offspring, a son, is a cardio-thoracic surgeon in Southern California. 

Authorities emphasized the importance of being well-equipped and prepared when embarking on outdoor adventures, even for seasoned hikers like Keshava. Despite his experience, he had not anticipated the need to spend the night outdoors, underscoring the unpredictability of nature.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office expressed its gratitude for the collaborative efforts of all involved in the search and rescue operation, which ultimately led to Keshava’s safe return. The incident underscores the significance of proper planning, communication, and preparedness when venturing into remote and potentially hazardous locations.

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