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Biker lost in desert is found by De Anza search team

May 29, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

SAN SEBASTIAN SWAMP — Stranded and with his voice hoarse, a man cried for help in the desert in the middle of the night.

Members of the De Anza Search and Rescue squad heard the stranded dirt biker's calls around 2:30 a.m. Sunday but couldn't reach him immediately because of the terrain.

"That area is just so terrible. It took us a half an hour to reach him after we first heard him," Ed Goodell said Tuesday morning.

Goodell, a volunteer in the De Anza Search and Rescue squad, said the 33-year-old biker from Santee ran out of gas two miles south of Highway 78 and nine miles west of Highway 86 around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

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De Anza Search and Rescue was called late Saturday night to find the man after his off-roading buddies were unable to locate him.

According to Goodell, lost biker Paul Kerzner was camping with a group of friends in Holmes Camp near the San Diego County line.

A number of off-roaders in the group, including two men riding dirt bikes, went for a Memorial Day weekend ride in the Superstition dunes. When they became spooked by the heat and the soft sand they headed back to camp.

Two men, Kerzner and a friend, veered from the rest of the group and headed north.

Kerzner didn't come back.

After he ran out of gas near San Sebastian Swamp, Kerzner's friend left him, rode back to camp to get gas and rounded up people to find Kerzner and take him the gas.

When they couldn't find him they called the Imperial County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office called the De Anza squad.

Awakened about 11 p.m. Saturday, Goodell and the rest of the squad met in Westmoreland shortly thereafter and headed into the desert looking for the man.

Using quads and Jeeps, nine squad members, communicating via radios, criss-crossed the area where the friend told them Kerzner might be.

Around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, De Anza volunteer Myron King found him.

The squad, which included a paramedic, checked Kerzner and gave him some water, then made sure he got back to camp.

Kerzner was "very thirsty," Goodell said.

Goodell added if Kerzner hadn't been found that night he would have been in "serious trouble" the next day.

"He had stayed with the bike, which was clever," Goodell said.

Using the tracks of the bike, the rescue squad narrowed down Kerzner's location.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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