Receive alerts from your local agencies
...or text your ZIP CODE to 888777 for mobile alerts

Full Notification

Ventura County Sheriff's Office
Saturday October 5th, 2019 :: 10:36 a.m. PDT


Search and Rescue Bass Lake

Nature of Incident: Sheriff’s Search & Rescue Volunteer and a local citizen receive Lifesaver Awards from Madera County.
Report Number:
Location: Bass Lake, CA
Date & Time: 10/03/2019 at 9:00 AM
Unit(s) Responsible: Upper Ojai Search and Rescue
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent City of Residence Age
Brandon Nichols
Heather D’anna Santa Paula
On 10/03/19, a Ventura County Sheriff’s Upper Ojai Search and Rescue member and a Ventura County citizen trained extensively in backcountry hiking were recognized at the California State Sheriff’s Association meeting in Bass Lake, CA for coming to the aid of two fallen hikers in Madera County. 
Search and Rescue Volunteer, Brandon Nichols, and his girlfriend, Heather D’Anna, were both presented with the Lifesaver Award from Madera County and the Cal OES commendation award by Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney. 
On 08/03/2019, Nichols and D’Anna were hiking near Iceberg Lake in Madera County when they witnessed two hikers fall while attempting to cross a snow covered ridgeline above the lake.  One hiker fell approximately 300 feet down an icy mountainside while the other hiker fell over 600 feet.  
Nichols immediately went to help the hikers, while D’Anna hiked out of the region to get further assistance because there was no cellular communication in the area.
Upon contacting the hikers, Nichols found one hiker had died from the fall, and the other needed assistance getting to safety. 
Nichols was able to help the fall victim hike over 1 mile to receive advanced medical care that D’Anna had summoned. 
Nichols and D’Anna were able to coordinate with Madera County Search and Rescue to recover the body of the deceased hiker.   Without the efforts of Nichols and D’Anna, the injured hiker would have faced a life threatening situation with no way to summon additional resources. 
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub was present at the California State Sheriff’s Association meeting when Nichols and D’Anna were recognized for their lifesaving efforts. 
Nichols is one of 27 volunteer members of the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team. These volunteers are skilled in search and rescue operations in mountain, canyon and urban settings. The volunteers logged 3,772 hours in 2018 on searches, rescues, recoveries, training and public events.
The Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team is holding their annual fundraiser on Sunday, October 6th from 4:00 - 7:30 PM at Boccali’s Restaurant located at 3277 E Ojai Ave, Ojai. There will be food, live music, silent auction items and raffle prizes. Tickets for the event are $42 and available from team members or at the door. All proceeds go directly to the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team. 
Prepared by: Deputy J. Havelka
News Release Date: 10/04/2019
Media Follow-Up Contact: Deputy J. Havelka
(805) 646-1414
Approved by:
Captain J. Paris

Ventura County Sheriff's Office
800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93009

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 805-654-9511

Navigate & Discover