Incident Report

Kern County Fire Department

Jonathan Drucker

Helicopter 407 Night Vision Search and Hoist Rescue
DATE: April 2, 2024
TIME: 00:28

Incident Number


Incident tYPE

Hoist Rescue
Location: Sycamore Canyon, Bear Valley Springs
Closest Community: Bear Valley Springs, Tehachapi

Incident Narrative

BEAR VALLEY SPRINGS, Calif., On April 2nd, 2024, at 12:28 a.m. Kern County Fire’s Helicopter 407 was dispatched to assist the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and Bear Valley Police Department with locating a runaway teenage girl. The girl had ran from her neighborhood and disappeared into a deep canyon with large rock outcroppings and thick vegetation.

Helicopter 407, with a pilot plus 3 firefighters, launched from the Keene Helipad and in 7 minutes was flying over the incident. The KCSO Search and Rescue Team’s searchlights could be seen as they hiked down below. Equipped with night vision goggles (NVG’s), the helicopter crew flew the area attempting to locate the missing girl. The pilot’s skills were tested by the deep, narrow canyon walls and the winds as they blew down the steep terrain. As the crew scanned the ground, suddenly the entire mountainside lit up and a brilliant light shone directly above them as an object like a meteor shot across the sky and then broke apart into pieces. Describing the event afterwards, the pilot stated that the mysterious fireball had illuminated her NVG’s almost like it was daytime.

Staying on task, the helicopter crew focused on the lights below and noticed that there was one light that behaved differently than the rest. As the search party on the ground covered the rough terrain, their lights bounced and then panned back and forth. There was a single light, however, that was stationary. Convinced this was their girl, the flight medic used his cell phone to drop a pin on the location and sent it to the KCFD Air Ops Chief who was at the Incident Command Post. The coordinates were plugged into Sheriff GPS units and they were led straight to the lost teen who had hidden beneath a large rock. The coordinates had been spot on. With this news H-407 returned to Keene to refuel.

Shortly thereafter, H-407 was requested back to the scene to hoist out the young girl. The flight medic was lowered down to her and performed a rapid assessment, confirming her condition and ability to ride the hoist. He then helped her into a Helitack Hotseat hoist jacket and she was raised into the chopper.

Firefighters in Bear Valley set up a landing zone at KCFD Station 16. The girl was safely flown to the fire station and was left in the care of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

No injuries have been reported. The temperature on the mountain had dropped rapidly and was very cold. The young girl’s rescue was timely and prevented possible temperature related injury such as hypothermia. Fire and Sheriff, working as a team, combined their efforts and brought this incident safely to completion.


Injuries: 0
Fatalities: 0

Property Lost/Saved

Estimated Value LOSS: $0
Estimated Value SAVED: $0

KCFD Equipment Assigned

Engines: E16
Patrols: None
Trucks: None
Specialty Equipment: BATT21, H407

Total Personnel


Assisting Agencies

KCSO, Bear Valley PD

On Call Fire Information Officer

Phone: 1-661-330-0133

Additional images

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