JohnRey Hassan, a second-year nursing science major at UC Irvine, participated in the three-day search and rescue operation for a missing California family last December.
What began as a trip to the snowy woods of California to find a Christmas tree ended in a three-day state-wide search and rescue effort by more than 80 people. Frederick Dominguez, 38, and his children Chistopher, 18; Alexis, 15; and Joshua, 12, were last seen leaving their home in Paradise, Calif. on Sunday, Dec. 16 and reported missing Monday night by the children’s mother and Dominguez’s former wife, Lisa Sams.
Dominguez and his children were found on Wednesday, Dec. 19 by a CHP helicopter that spotted a ‘HELP’ sign in the snow near a culvert. Dominguez told CNN that his daughter had heard the helicopter when he ran barefoot through several feet of snow to flag it down. The family managed to stay alive despite freezing weather conditions, by seeking shelter inside a log and sleeping with their shirts wrapped around their feet to ward off frostbite.
The Butte County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit coordinated the multi-agency alpine search for the Dominguez family, examining the location surrounding the family’s abandoned pickup on Skyway, approximately 2.5 miles north of Inskip. The search pulled in approximately 55 trained Search and Rescue Volunteers from Butte County, Contra Costa County, Glenn County, Marin County and Shasta County. Also, approximately 50 additional trained Search and Rescue volunteers arrived in Butte County Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to continue the search effort to locate the Dominguez family.
‘The entire operation was a success and an outstanding story of individuals displaying the will to survive and fight and to never give up, which is essential in this situation,’ said Hassan, who was among the 50 volunteers called in to help find the Dominguez family. ‘When you realize that you’re in that tough spot, people get into that fight-or-flight mode. People say that those who fight are the ones that come out alive. The ones that [are overcome with fear by their circumstances] oftentimes are not as fortunate. [The Dominguez family] stayed together; they built a shelter, waited for rescuers to find them