A volunteer trail-safety patrol member for the East Bay Regional Park District got some personal experience Saturday in getting lost.
Albert Rothman, of Livermore, was rescued by a helicopter in Del Valle Regional Park near Livermore about midnight Saturday, eight hours after he set out on a routine trail patrol he expected to last two or three hours.
Rothman, 85, a seasoned hiker, went out around 4 p.m. to look for anyone on the trail in need of help or directions. The park district launched a search on ground and air after he failed to check in with park officials after dark.
Rothman carried a park district emergency radio with him, but he didn't know how to use it to call for help. As a result, he was restricted to listening to rather than assisting the search.
Park officials found him after broadcasting a radio message urging Rothman — if he was listening — to shine any light he had up in the air.
He flashed a tiny key-chain light, enabling the park district helicopter pilot to find and rescue him.
"I'm fine other than being a little tired," Rothman said by phone Sunday from his home. While he won't abandon his practice of hiking by himself, Rothman said, "I learned I need to do better on some safety things."
Rothman said, and a park official agreed, that Rothman should have carried a flashlight and a charged cell phone, and he also should have known how to call in on the emergency radio.
"It's always better to hike with a companion," MacKay said. "But if you hike alone, it's especially important to leave word with a responsible person about your travel route and return time."