Search planned for May 18
A 55-year-old husband and father of four, John Sturkie, has been missing since Jan. 5. Searches for him along the Black Mountain Truck Trail have been scheduled for the Saturdays of May 18 and May 25.
A lover of the outdoors, frequent camper and hunter, Sturkie left his Oceanside home Friday, Jan. 4. On his way to Idyllwild, he stopped at a friend’s house in El Cajon.
His wife, Theresa, said he frequently went alone on these adventures.
On Saturday, he was on the Black Mountain Truck Trail. During the day, rain was falling all over the San Jacinto Mountains. And Saturday night, snow arrived. At lower elevations such as Idyllwild and Fern Valley, it measured 4 inches. But 9 inches were recorded at the Long Valley Ranger Station, which is a much higher elevation. Idyllwild’s recorded temperatures that day were a high of 47 degrees and a low of 34 degrees.
He was not prepared to spend extended time in freezing weather.
Theresa said sometime during the day, three other hikers encountered Sturkie, whose truck was stuck in the mud on the truck trail. They helped him free it and continued up the trail.
On their return, they met him again, stuck again. This time, according to the family’s Facebook page, they could not extricate his vehicle. He refused to walk down the trail with them to return Sunday to free it.
But they did call 911 to alert first responders about the trapped man, according to Theresa.
This is the last known encounter with John Sturkie. On March 15, his truck was found about 12 miles from the highway at 6,500 elevation, but no sign of him nearby. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has conducted a search on Black Mountain along the truck trail that was unsuccessful.
A new search has been scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 18. The family asks individuals who may want to participate to collect at the Fuller Ridge Campground. They offer transportation from the base of the Black Mountain Truck Trail to the campground for those who need it.
Safety gear, lunch and water will be provided. Wear long pants, sleeves, hiking shoes, hats and sunscreen. Since the elevation will be 6,500 feet, they advise participants, “Be smart and know your limitations. We want your help, but we don’t need anyone getting sick or hurt.”
This will be a planned and organized search and not a random search. For this event, participants will all begin at a central location. Small sections will be assigned as groups radiate from the central point to canvas as much ground as possible.
Those intending to come should notify his wife, Theresa, via email at email@example.com. Another search is scheduled for May 25, she said.
In the family’s words, “We have not had a synchronized search. We hope by doing it this way, no stone will be left uncovered.”
His children range in age from 17 to 28. He is an avid outdoors man. He is 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs about 240 pounds.. His eyes are blue. He has a mustache and beard, and is bald on top.
When he departed Oceanside, he was wearing a yellow T-shirt, a tan button-down, palm-leaf print shirt, a charcoal-gray fleece and tan pants.
Any information should be given to Oceanside Detective Ryan Malone. His phone number is 760-435-4911 The case number is 19000398.
Other links with his family or about Sturkie can be found on Facebook at
Please Help Find John Sturkie or at www.gofundme.com/f/the-john-sturkie-family-fund