Tuesday, December 18, 2007
SAR News: 2:20 p.m: Paradise family still missing in high country
INSKIP — Search and rescue teams are scouring the area above Inskip today for a Paradise man and his three children who failed to return Sunday night from a trip to the Philbrook area.
Frederick Dominguez, 38; his 18-year-old son, Christopher Dominguez; daughter Alexis Dominguez, 15; and son Josh Dominguez,12, were reported missing at about 6:20 p.m. Monday by Lisa Sams of Paradise. Sams is Frederick Dominguez's ex-wife and shares custody of the children.
She said they went to the area about 3 p.m. Sunday, following church. They only intended to stay long enough to cut a Christmas tree. She said she wasn't aware on Sunday that they hadn't returned.
At about 9:50 p.m. Monday, searchers discovered the Dominguez vehicle on the Skyway, just a mile north of Inskip.
It was described as a distinctive raised, yellow Chevrolet Silverado that a lot of people around Paradise would recognize.
Officials said it was carefully parked in a turnout area, not locked, and didn't appear to be disabled.
Searchers found no sign of the missing people at the vehicle.
"Any tracks or other signs that may have given us a direction of travel had already been covered by snow," said search and rescue official Scott Steele.
Heavy snow fell throughout the night and had accumulated to about 18 inches by 10 a.m. today.
Search coordinator Matt Pearce said cabins near the Skyway between Inskip and the location of the truck were checked, but nothing was found.
By 11 a.m. today, some search crews that had been out all night were relieved to eat and get rest, but Pearce said they would be back in the afternoon.
With mutual aid coming from San Francisco, Lodi, Glenn County and Contra Costa County, Pearce said seven teams and 21 personnel were actively searching an area above Inskip known as Gold Hill.
Two of the teams had dogs with them, Pearce said.
Frederick Dominguez' co-workers from Hunter's Pest Control in Paradise also arrived throughout the morning to assist in the search, joining several family members from the ridge and Marysville area, who gathered in Inskip seeking information about their missing loved ones.
Pearce said visibility in the area prevented any kind of search from the air, and noted that conditions including snow and low overcast were expected to persist throughout the day.
The missing people carried cellular phones, but Pearce said calls placed to those numbers haven't gone through.
Sams said her children and ex-husband were wearing coats, but probably weren't prepared for extremely cold weather.
She said her son, Chris, has had extensive camping experience and is familiar with basic survival skills.
The children's father moved to Paradise recently from the Los Angeles area so he could be closer to his family, Sams said.
Pearce said the hunt for the missing family members is possibly the largest official search and rescue operation in Butte County history.
Anyone with information about the missing individuals can call the Paradise Police Department at 872-6241.
Search and rescue authorities report that further would-be volunteer searchers are not needed. Weather conditions in the search area are so severe, there is a concern that volunteers would themselves become lost or stuck. The Skyway is closed above Stirling City to all but official rescue volunteers.
****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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