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Brothers airlifted from Angeles National Forest

They had to be rescued after getting stuck on a closed trail from Switzer to JPL.

August 18, 2012|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com

A La Cañada Flintridge man and his brother ran into trouble in the Angeles National Forest on Wednesday and spent the night in the mountains before they were airlifted out by Montrose Search and Rescue on Thursday morning.

Andre and Rene Laurencot were trying to hike from the Switzer Picnic Area to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Gabrielino Trail on Wednesday when they failed to see a trail closure sign and got stuck, according to Mike Leum, assistant director of the rescue team.

“One had hiked [the trail] a long time ago, maybe 20 years ago, but after the fires, floods and windstorms, that trail is almost impassable,” Leum said. “With all the downed trees, the different terrain, it is a nightmare.”

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Rene Laurencot, 48, who lives in Connecticut, tried to climb out of the arroyo up the Angeles Crest Highway, but got stuck, leading to a cliffside helicopter rescue.

His brother Andre Laurencot, 54, a La Cañada resident, was found about a mile up the trail, where he was also airlifted out.

“He was too exhausted to continue, and he was kind of banged and bruised,” Leum said.

Neither hiker reported any injuries, according to Sgt. Debra Herman of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station.

Herman said the brothers were supposed to attend a family dinner at 5 p.m. Wednesday and were reported missing at 10 p.m.

Leum said the rescue team was dispatched at around 11 p.m., but didn't find Rene Laurencot until 6:40 a.m. They spotted his brother about a half-hour later.

“Nobody had any good communication because they didn't tell anyone what their plan was, where they were going, and once they got in the field they separated,” Leum said.

The hikers were flown to a nearby landing zone and then driven to their cars.

On Friday, Andre Laurencot said the hike went wrong when he and his brother reached Switzer Falls, where they saw a sign warning of danger. They didn't realize it was referring to the trail ahead.

“Our big mistake was that we associated the danger with the falls, and we went on going on the trail around the falls,” he said. “From my perspective, you need a sign planted right in the trail that [tells hikers], ‘Don't go on it.'”

Laurencot said spending a dark night in the canyon was a little scary, but mostly a sleepless inconvenience.

“There was so much debris around that I felt a little safer, because if anybody tried to sneak up on me they would make a lot of noise. Otherwise it was just uncomfortable,” he said.

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