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4 hikers rescued from Trabuco Canyon

December 21, 2010 |  9:01 am

Four men stranded in Orange County's Trabuco Canyon were rescued Tuesday morning when they were plucked from the flooded foothills by helicopter.

A witness at the scene described an emotional reunion with worried family members. The identities of the stranded men have not been released.

The men were spotted soon after daybreak when the helicoper flew over the fast-moving Trabuco Creek and saw them inside their vehicle.

Relatives had received text messages from the hikers saying they got stuck in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains on Monday as the rains came and couldn’t make it back to their vehicle.

The rescue comes after the successful rescue of another group of hikers caught in the rain in the same area Monday night.

A rescue team was called out to the canyon around 8:30 p.m. to locate the group of five stuck on the east side of the river, authorities said.

“The river was running deep and it was running fast,” McKeown said.

Firefighters used a bulldozer to ford the waterway and bring back the members of the group one by one. Its weight -– roughly 30,000 pounds -– kept the bulldozer from washing away.

Word of the other missing group came in around the same time as the rescue of the five, but authorities had to hold off until morning in the hope conditions would improve.

“We couldn’t make it any farther,” McKeown said. “The conditions were too treacherous.”

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Photos: Four men rescued by the Orange County Fire Authority are evaluated by paramedics, top, inside one of the ambulances at the command post in Trabuco Canyon on Tuesday after spending a cold, rainy night stranded by floodwaters in Holy Jim Canyon. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times