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Saugus hiker tells tale of being lost in canyon overnight

Posted: March 12, 2014 6:13 p.m.
Updated: March 12, 2014 6:13 p.m.
A "selfie" of Saugus hiker Brian Napoli  A "selfie" of Saugus hiker Brian Napoli 
A "selfie" of Saugus hiker Brian Napoli 

Santa Clarita Valley hiker Brian Napoli fell down the rocky side of a mountain and knocked himself unconscious Monday, only to wake up alone, frightened, cold and thirsty, he said Wednesday in a phone interview from his hospital bed.

The 24-year-old Saugus man said he is recovering from an internal injury to his lung suffered during his 18-hour ordeal lost in Towsley Canyon.

Napoli was spotted from a helicopter Tuesday morning by members of the Santa Clarita Search and Rescue Team, who had searched Monday evening and into Tuesday, then again at daybreak Tuesday. Napoli was found around 10 a.m. Tuesday and taken immediately to the hospital.

“I’m very sore,” he said Wednesday. “I had fallen down the mountain and I was knocked out from it.”

On Monday, about 3:30 p.m., Napoli spoke with his mother on his cellphone from atop the trail that winds through Towsley Canyon, west of The Old Road at Calgrove Boulevard. He told her he was lost, said his mother, Janet, who added that her son was hiking in the canyon to gather research information for a school project at College of the Canyons.

Within 30 minutes of the call to his mother, his cellphone battery died and, about the same time, he lost his footing and fell down a steep, rocky incline.

“I was on the trail and near the top when I noticed an off-shoot trail that went a little higher, but it kind of ended,” he said. “I looked around and saw two rock points and a trail, like a natural trail, an opening in the brush.

“Where I fell it was all rock,” he said.

Napoli said he doesn’t know what his head struck, but he woke up dazed.

“I tried not to cry,” he said. “I would just get weak if I did, I thought. I followed a creek bed because I thought, obviously, it’s running down hill.”

When the sun set and it got dark, Napoli had other problems to deal with, he said.

“Six or seven coyotes were tracking me in the creek bed,” he said. “So I started to climb up.”

He said he covered himself with chaparral and other brush in a bid to keep warm.

As the new day dawned, “I built some brush at the top of the hill because I saw the helicopter start to look for me,” he said. At one point he took off his black and orange shorts and tied them to a tree branch and began waving the clothing in an effort to be noticed.

That strategy apparently worked. Searchers spotted him waving the clothing about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

“I was extremely dehydrated,” Napoli said. “I was freezing and all I wanted was water and an In-N-Out Burger.”

Napoli remains “hooked up” to an intravenous feeding tube and, in light of doctors’ fears of internal injury, has had nothing to drink or eat since his ordeal, he said.

“There’s still a possibility of internal injury so they’re just playing it safe,” he said, referring to surgery protocol demanding an empty stomach before any operation.

However, Napoli said, he’s still looking forward to that hamburger.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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