Rescued hiker Debra Collins recoverin...

Rescued hiker Debra Collins recovering from frostbitten toes, expected to go home from hospital t...

There are 128 comments on the Santa Cruz Sentinel story from Dec 6, 2010, titled Rescued hiker Debra Collins recovering from frostbitten toes, expected to go home from hospital t.... In it, Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that:

Debra Collins, the Felton woman who survived six freezing nights in Fall Creek park after falling in a remote ravine and not being able to get up or call for help, is expected to be released from the hospital today.

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What the

Concord, CA

#1 Dec 6, 2010
Wowak quote: "We were at a loss as to where to start looking. Just because she frequently hikes and bikes doesn't mean she's in the woods."

My goodness, friends and family told the sheriff's department that she frequently hiked and ran in Fall Creek. That would have been a sufficient clue for Clouseau. With this following so quickly after the escaped convict fiasco, the first instinct would be to call for Wowak's dismissal, but at 27+ years of service and a $185,976 annual salary, that would mean he'd just take his $150,000+ annual pension and we'd have to pay someone else to fill his position.
Mr Ed

Santa Cruz, CA

#2 Dec 6, 2010
Womack needs to go.

Person with known history of hiking near her house and didn't have a car, and left wallet and other items at home. Duhhhhh. Maybe you look in park closest to her home??

Loved the pic of the two heroes! I was expecting to see two grown men but loved that one was just a little kid.

What's that tell you when a man and his little son can find this lady after twenty minutes of hiking in the park she was known to frequent?

Womack needs to shut his trap with all the excuses.

Santa Cruz, CA

#3 Dec 6, 2010
"When we deploy a team it's strictly about the safety of the search team and the effectiveness of the search."

And "specific information"? How about the walkable area surrounding the home she left? Dont understand why NO effort was to be made. Wouldn't you just gather the searchers together at the "last scene" location and fan out, keeping in contact as the circle widens? Oh yea, I guess I just dont understand. But maybe SOMEbody that DOES understand searches should head up such teams, not someone who is glib at giving reasons why they wouldn't even try.

Santa Cruz, CA

#4 Dec 6, 2010
"The success of a random search is way too low and too high risk for our staff," Wowak said. "We were at a loss as to where to start looking. Just because she frequently hikes and bikes doesn't mean she's in the woods."

Admit it, Wowak, you blew it big time. And now, in the interests of public safety, please resign before we launch a move to have you dismissed.
Navigator 6

Santa Cruz, CA

#5 Dec 6, 2010
I'm just numb from anger at the laissez-faire attitude expressed by our sheriff's offfice about this case.
It would not be a ramdom search, given the information the family supplied.

Wow, where would we look for a person known as a hiker, that is known for hiking at certain parks that are walking distance from her home? Oh no--far too dangerous!

If nothing else, don't compound it by making stupid statments to the press.

United States

#6 Dec 6, 2010
I would think the search and rescue team would be all over this assignment. Even if they didn't find her, the real life scenario training would be invaluable. Interesting.

San Jose, CA

#7 Dec 6, 2010
And Wowak asked that citizens "not" search on their own, so the sherrif's department would "not" have to be looking for two people.
Mr Ed

Santa Cruz, CA

#8 Dec 6, 2010
Yea. "risk too high". ;)

Thank goodness that dad and his little munchkin had more balls and common sense than the sheriff and his "at risk" staff.

United States

#9 Dec 6, 2010
To Protect and Serve..... Themselves
Piece of Work

San Francisco, CA

#10 Dec 6, 2010
Wowak has got a TON of explaining to do. Really, that's just pathetic.

Huge KUDOS to Joe and Dylan for doing in 20 minutes what our 6 figure employees weren't willing to. You guys are the heroes who saved her life and brought her home. You deserve a parade and a key to the city. Thank you so much for your selfless determination and motivation to help others.

We need more community members like you!!

San Ramon, CA

#11 Dec 6, 2010
It was too dangerous to send your search and rescue team to look for her??? What a bunch of crap. This woman would have probably been dead after another day out there. The Sherrif's dept is supposed to protect the general public not COWER in the corner and make excuses! Wowack you stink.
Dr Full

Boulder Creek, CA

#12 Dec 6, 2010
Law enforcement in this area is plain LAZY.

They would rather sit in their cars writing tickets for people rolling through stop signs.

Look at downtown SC. It's a disgrace.

How many fugitives are hanging out at the Homeless Shelter.
Mark Tween

Santa Cruz, CA

#13 Dec 6, 2010
The Sheriff has opened his mouth and inserted his foot. He is apparently too dumb to apologize for the mistake.

At this point, he should be removed from office, or he should resign.

Please leave now, Sheriff Wowak.
Liz Jones

Oakley, CA

#14 Dec 6, 2010
From this Sentinel story:

One of those neighbors said she'd talked to a psychic, who said they'd find the 58-year-old Collins in Fall Creek park.

Pittsburg, CA

#15 Dec 6, 2010
so glad she was found and that this story has a happy ending!!! A man a little boy found the woman, thankfully, since our sheriff let the family down and the woman's story could have had a different ending.. Thank goodness for the man and little boy who found her!!!!!!
Mr Ed

Santa Cruz, CA

#16 Dec 6, 2010
I hope that everyone outraged by this will take a few moments to email their County Supervisor to complain about the sheriff's lack of initiative in this case.

Go to the Santa Cruz County website and you will find page for County Supervisors with email links.
Garg Antua

Santa Cruz, CA

#17 Dec 6, 2010
The Sheriff has an ego as huge as ....Fall Creek State Park.

What a moron. Just keep talking and making it worse for yourself, Sheriff.

We are talking about state parks here, places that people hike and jog and ride horses and mountain bikes in all the time. Sadly, it is way to dangerous a place for the Sheriff.

How embarrassing for the Sheriff. He has shown lately that in two big issues, prisoner transport and search/rescue, he is not up to the task at hand.

There must be a better person for this job.

It is not safe for private searchers, because then he would have two or more people...... to NOT search for....what a bunch of bologna.

Santa Cruz, CA

#18 Dec 6, 2010
Wowak needs to be terminated... what an idiot!

What the H--- is he doing anyway?

He says not enough information was given as to the last place Debra was seen... give me a break! Any idiot would know to search the woods near her home... her car and bike were at her house, so obviously Debra did not venture far. She is known to be a hiker.

WOWAK needs to be fired... how do we the public, get rid of him? He is making the sheriffs dept. look like bunch of useless clowns.

Also, sending a lone female sheriff with a 270 lb. 6 ft 5 in. inmate (who as a history of abuse towards police officers) to the hospital as he did last week was another stupid move. That female deputy is lucky to be alive, no thanks to Wowak.

Debra Collins is also lucky to be alive, no thanks to inept Wowak. Thanks to hikers Joachim Deguara and his son Dylan for saving Debra's life.

What use is this sheriffs department anyway? You call for help and they sit on their rears collecting their paychecks!

No wonder folks are taking the law into their own hands.

Move on Wowak, far away!

Berkeley, CA

#19 Dec 6, 2010
Thank God, some good news at last. Now, if the Sentinel could get the right pics in order they might have a credible newspaper. I see this all the time. My first thought was, "Either she shrunk or she grows a mean goatee in 6 days".
Liz Jones

Oakley, CA

#20 Dec 6, 2010
And from KCBA news:

FELTON, Calif— The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department says a 58-year-old woman named Debra Collins was found alive in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Sheriff's Department did not organize a search team. Collins was found by one of her neighbors and his son. They went to look for her after seeing fliers with her picture on it.

Collins had been in the mountains for seven days and six nights and was reported missing on Tuesday, November 30th.

Collin's next door neighbor, Brenda Bullock, says she saw her last Sunday in running clothes. She said Collins is an avid runner, and from the very beginning, she thought Collins was stranded along one of the nearby trails.

Rescue crews say hikers found Collins December 4th, Saturday afternoon disorientated and dehydrated. Collins' friends and neighbors who went to the Fall Creek Trail with crews said she had possibly broken her ankle. They said Collins told them when they got to her, she had slipped and was trapped in a little ravene. The Santa Cruz Sheriff's Department will not confirm that however, just saying that she became disoriented while hiking and sat down to rest.

On the morning of December 5th, Central Coast News tried to contact the Sheriff's Department about why they didn't send a search team. We had a meeting scheduled, but they called back and cancelled.

Brenda Bullock said she called the department as well. She said they told her they would only send people out "if they thought she was alive. And they said they think if she's been up there that long, she might not be alive so they won't do a search."

The Sheriff's Department also told Central Coast News they did not initiate a search because they "don't have a starting point." Apparently, they contacted Collin's neighbor, Nigel Bullock, who says they had plenty of places to start looking.

"There are clues. There are regular places she ran. Definitely Fall Creek, Henry Cowle. Those are two state parks that are close to us, walking distance. They have minimum trails that could easily be looked at," he said.

Neighbors took it upon themselves to search for Collins. Thanks to them, she is now recovering at Dominican Hospital and is in stable condition. Rescuers said she had gone on a run Sunday. She was about four miles into the forest.

Friends and neighbors say Collins is a private person, but very friendly and warm. They say she is an avid runner and hiker and that if anyone would have been able to survive in the mountains for that long, it would be her.

Submitted by Jenna Espinoza; Updated by Brooke Holmquist and Candice Nguyen

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