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Boy Scout Troop 469 helped rescue a couple stranded on Mt. Whitney.

By Kirk Geringer, A.A./PIO, Pleasant Valley State Prison

A newlywed couple have a group of scouts and a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Associate Warden to thank for saving them from a perilous situation.

One of CDCR’s Correctional Administrators devotes his off-duty hours teaching young men and boys the traits of being productive citizens. Jonathan Buckley, Associate Warden at Pleasant Valley State Prison, attends a church which sponsors Boy Scout Troop 496.

On the last week of July, Buckley helped lead 14 of the Hanford-based troop members on a six-day, 62-mile backpacking trip from Mineral King to Mt. Whitney. Late on the fifth day of the trip, the troop reached Mount Whitney’s peak.

Due to the immediate danger of hail and thunder, the members of the troop were forced to leave the summit to seek safety and shelter at trail camp four hours away.

While hiking down the mountain, former Eagle Scouts Brian Phillips and George Myers came upon a newlywed couple in need of medical attention near the 14,500-foot summit of Mount Whitney.

The couple, from Southern California, had run out of food and water and the woman was showing signs of dehydration and hypothermia. The woman fainted.

Phillips and Myers sprang into action. They stabilized the woman and provided the couple with food and water. The former scouts also gave them their jackets as the couple only had one wind breaker to share.

Lightning flashes, rolling thunder and hail forced the former scouts to descend dangerous cliffs and rocky trails to reach trail camp.  Once they managed to get the couple to easier trails, Myers went ahead to notify the rest of the troop and its leaders.

Buckley and the others mobilized to assist the couple to their camp site some four miles away, giving them food, water and setting up shelter using a tent found on the trail and two sleeping bags found in an unoccupied search and rescue staging tent near trail camp.

Former Eagle Scout Brian Phillips is shown with Jessica and Rodney Aguilera.

Former Eagle Scout Brian Phillips is shown with Jessica and Rodney Aguilera.

Once the couple’s symptoms eased the next day, the boys walked them the final seven miles to the Whitney Portal trail head to ensure their safety. The thankful couple described the boy’s actions as heroic.

“Due to the combination of our troop’s late start that day and the timing of the bad weather in the late afternoon; our troop was the last off the mountain when our young men came upon the couple.  The character, courage and integrity these young men showed on the mountain during dangerous conditions were remarkable,” Buckley said. “I could not be more proud of them and their actions.”