Horse Airlifted To Safety After Tumbling Into Canyon Near Lake Hemet

LAKE HEMET ( — After spending two nights stuck in a canyon near Lake Hemet, a horse was finally airlifted to safety, authorities said Monday.

Authorities were first notified Sunday morning about a horse and its rider that had gone off Spitler Peak Trail in the San Bernardino National Forest. But an airlift attempt was not feasible due to Sunday’s heat, according to John Welsh of Riverside County Animal Services.

Welsh said the horse, a 27-year-old quarter horse named Cody, and his rider, Tom Firth, of Anza, tumbled several times down a steep cliff when a trail gave out underneath them.

Firth was found east of Lake Hemet, along the Spitler Peak Trail, where he stayed with his injured horse all day Sunday and into Monday morning, Welsh said. A friend also rode out to deliver Firth a Thermos of coffee and a homemade breakfast burrito.

The rescue operation, which began before dawn, was conducted by the Horse Animal Rescue Team, made up of members of CAL Fire, Riverside Police, Riverside County sheriff’s Air Services Division and a volunteer mounted posse team.

Both the horse and its rider are expected to make a full recovery.


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