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Stranded Hikers In Eaton Canyon To Face Hefty Fines For Emergency Rescues

EATON CANYON ( — A stranded hiker was retrieved by helicopter Sunday morning from Griffith Park and emergency workers say these kinds of rescue operations highlight a growing problem in Southern California.

Amateur backpackers keep wandering off the beaten trail and then can't get back to safety.

Depending on the month, rescuers are called out to save stranded hikers almost on a daily basis.

Many of those rescues happen in Eaton Canyon, a spot in the San Gabriel Mountains where many hikers stray from a popular trail and scale canyon walls to reach a remote waterfall. Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service said five people have died at Eaton Canyon since 2009 and hundreds have been rescued.

Officials now say they've had enough. They plan on citing hikers stranded in Eaton Canyon for spending tax dollars on their sometimes dangerous rescues.

"We're probably going to set a record: we're at 275 missions so far, year to date," according to L.A. County Sheriff's search and rescue team Reserve Chief Mike Leum.

One section of the trail is appropriately named Acrophobia Ridge, which was closed to the public on August 1.

The warning signs posted don't keep some people from trying to scale the ridge.

"When they try to climb back down that rock face, that's when they start to slide," Judy said.

A hiker was even caught on video sliding from the canyon.

"If she hadn't caught that tree she could have been the next victim," Judy said.

She survived and was airlifted out of the canyon.

"So, the next person who gets rescued off this cliff here, they will most definitely get a citation," Judy said.

That citation carries a fine of up to $5,000 and six months in jail. It's a steep price that will hopefully prevent another steep fall.

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