10 Missing Hikers Found After They Contacted Rescuers Through Apple iPhone's SOS Emergency Feature

The group of hikers were led to safety after rescuers were able to locate them.
The group of hikers were led to safety after rescuers were able to locate them.Handout

The Apple SOS feature allows some iPhone users to reach local authorities through satellite instead of cellular data or Wi-Fi.

It was all thanks to an Apple iPhone feature that 10 missing hikers were rescued from a California canyon after dark.

Last week, a group of hikers who were mostly “not prepared for the hike” took on the Santa Paula Canyon Trail in Ventura County. When they didn’t return when they were expected to, their guardians contacted the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and said they were “missing and possibly in need of assistance,” authorities said.

At around 8 p.m. that evening, the local dispatch received a message sent directly from the group of 10 hikers through the Apple Emergency SOS feature, which uses satellite instead of cellular data and Wi-Fi to text emergency services on some iPhone models.

Thanks to the SOS feature, dispatch was able to learn their possible location and whether any of the hikers needed emergency medical assistance, according to a statement.

A team of 13 members of the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue team was sent to their aid, and after about a four-mile hike, more than three hours after they received the SOS, rescuers were able to locate the group of 10, the statement read.

Conditions that evening were poor, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in their statement, with rescuers reporting low visibility, with known stream-crossings and trails damaged from heavy rains.

The hikers also didn’t appear to be fully prepared for the hike, but rescuers were able to give them food, water and help with their equipment before they led them back to safety, the statement read.

The hikers were reunited with their guardians just before 3 a.m., about seven hours after the SOS signal was sent, and “fortunately did not require any medical aid,” authorities said.

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