Missing hiker found after six days: Would likely have died without RMRU rescue

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Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit volunteers located a hiker missing for six days. At the time he was found on Saturday, Nov. 12, about 3 ½ miles off South Ridge Trail, the hiker was severely dehydrated and malnourished, having gone most of the time he was missing without water or food.

“Given his condition at the time he was found, had RMRU not found him, I’m sure he would have died,” said Sgt. Robert Duckett, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Hemet Station.

In the report from RCSD, Duckett noted two hikers, Troy Beneke, 46, of Idyllwild, and Clide Mallatt, 66, of Hemet, set out Sunday, Nov. 6, on the South Ridge Trail and became separated. According to Duckett, the two were somewhat reclusive and thought to be “gold hunters,” who were accustomed to being gone and on their own for extended periods.

At the end of the day on Sunday, Beneke hiked back to his vehicle and waited for Mallatt who never showed up. Beneke went home and telephoned Mallatt around 10 p.m. that night. Mallat, whose cell phone was still working but losing charge, said he was still on the mountain, lost and out of water, and that his legs were cramping. He told Beneke he would bed down and try to hike out in the morning. By around 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 7, Mallatt’s cell phone was dead, according to the RCSD report.

Beneke said he returned over the next several days to search for Mallatt but was unsuccessful.

Finally, on Friday, Nov. 11, again according to the report, “a friend told [Beneke] to call 911 and report the incident,” which he did.

RMRU located Mallatt around 1:50 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12. He was transported to Hemet Valley Medical Center for treatment suffering from exhaustion, extreme dehydration and malnourishment.

Although the circumstances of the incident initially prompted RCSD to launch a full investigation, the case is now closed, according to Duckett. He said when the department contacted Mallett’s wife, she indicated Mallett often took off for weeks at a time and that it was not unusual for him to be gone without contact.

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