Message In A Bottle Saves Lost Family of Hikers

Note and bottle
Curtis Whitson
Curtis Whitson

During a camping trip in the California woods, a family was stranded at the top of a 40-foot waterfall. Amazingly, the key to their rescue was a reusable water bottle that they used to send for help.

The group included Curtis Whitson, his 13-year-old son, and his girlfriend, Krystal Ramirez. They were in the middle of a four-day hike in the Arroyo Seco when they were trapped in an area known as the waterfall in June 2019.

Speaking to ABC News, Whitson noted that that the water level caught them off guard and that their “timing was just not right.” He added that “One bad step or one misjudgment in regards to that strength of that river and it could’ve just carried us right over the edge and that could’ve been it.”

Stranded, the group thought of ways they could call for help and were resourceful with the items they had on hand. Using an old receipt and a reusable water bottle, they wrote a message in a bottle. First, they wrote the date “6-15-19” on the receipt as well as “We are stuck here @ the waterfall get help please.”

They then etched the words “GET HELP” on the side of the water bottle, put the note in the container, and sent it over the waterfall. Luckily, two campers that were half a mile down the river found the bottle with the message and notified a campground manager who notified the authorities. The family was then rescued by helicopter early the next day.

Joe Kingman, the rescue pilot, commented that “A lot of pieces fell into place just right for these folks,” as he’s never seen a message in a bottle work in his 33 years on the job. Curtis’ son Hunter added that it was something out of a movie and was happy they were all okay.