Joe Le's Body Was Found by Volunteers; Family and Friends Frustrated with LA County Sheriff's Efforts to Find Lost Hiker

Categories: Breaking News
RescueSmall.jpg
Thuy Doan
Joe Le recovered
A three-day search in the Angeles National Forest by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials for the 20-year-old Anaheim hiker, Joe Le, ended last Sunday when his body was pulled from the icy waters of the San Gabriel River by a handful of volunteers, approximately 500 feet from the point he slipped in.

Representatives from the sheriff's headquarters insist they did everything within their means to aid in the search, but resources were scaled back once, according to Sgt. Diane Hecht, the effort was reclassified from "rescue" to "recovery," which occurred at the end of the first day.

Le's older sister, Victoria Le, 27, has expressed frustration with what she felt to be a lack of sufficient support from trained LASD officials, whom she and others state they observed concentrating on scouting from the air and cliff trails. She says that when asked why officials did not enter the river, deputies cited "liability reasons," including frigid temperature and rushing waters.

"At one point I talked with the [deputy] and asked what they did that day," recounts Victoria Le, who works as a forensic technician with the Westminster Police Department. "He said they sent out a helicopter, but where do you look when a person drowns? They're going to be in the water. You can't just drive around on the cliffs and look down."

Lt. Craig Boyett, who was on duty during the search, says, "It was disappointing to everyone that we couldn't find him the day he fell into the river. ... [There were] 15 to 20 fire trucks stationed along the river with two to three airships patrolling up and down the area just in case they saw him, but there was no sign. We considered taking divers in, but the currents were so treacherous. We had an inkling [Joe Le] was trapped underwater, but it was just too strong. If it were my family, I would have felt the same as them [the volunteers], but the frustrating thing is that Mother Nature wouldn't allow us to do more than what we did."

When asked whether the sheriff's department was involved in any way with the volunteer rescue efforts, Boyett responded negatively, adding that there was no way for the LASD to give assignments or dispatch civilians. Because the Angeles National Forest is public land, the most officials could do was caution the public to say away from the water.

Despite the environmental factors that deterred officials from searching the river, Le's friends and family members were able to mobilize more than 100 volunteers to do just that via social networking tools such as Facebook. Many were members of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (UVSA). They combed the entire area, even venturing into the riverbed.

"They basically told us we were on our own when it came to searching the river," Victoria Le continues, "I don't understand why they [the officials] couldn't even advise us on what to do. We didn't need them to babysit us, but we expected them to at least assist or guide us.

"I want to give thanks to the proper people. Our family and the UVSA had never done this before. If it weren't for the UVSA, I wouldn't have known what to do. They brought walkie-talkies and divided into search groups despite having zero experience. It was the volunteers who found his backpack. Volunteers pulled Joe from the river."

Santos Avila Navarrete, his wife, Leticia Trujillo, Raymond Lee and David Gunshore were among the handful of volunteers to recover Le's body from a river bend near Coyote Flats at 3:20 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

My Voice Nation Help
15 comments
Noone
Noone

Entering the water with a rope tied to you, like the person who found the body, is EXTREMELY dangerous. If he had fallen, the rope would have pulled his body under like boat anchor. Waiting until the water goes down is hard to do, because you want to help. None of the rescue team members were happy to walk away without finding him, but adding another body is not worth it. And it isn't like the rescue team was just sitting around doing nothing on Saturday. There was another drowning, a car accident, and an injured hiker in the same area on Saturday. Who do you think responded to those incidents.

Joetext8318
Joetext8318

It doesn't help that he was an asian male. Sorry to say this, but I'm sure he would have received more help if he weren't ethnic.

Zhenglish36
Zhenglish36

hello everyone,im wholesale supplier online==

our website:=====( http://www.tntn.us)=====free shippingaccept paypal credit cardlower price fast shippment with higher qualityBEST QUALITY GUARANTEE!!SAFTY & HONESTY GUARANTEE!!FAST & PROMPT DELIVERY GUARANTEE!!Air jordan(1-24)shoes $30=====Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $35===Hndbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $35===Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $16=====Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $30=====Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,Armaini) $15===New era cap $10===Sunglass $ 15COACH_Necklace $ 27handbag $ 33AF tank woman $ 17puma slipper woman $ 30Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $25---FREE SHIPPING,accept paypal-very good shopping -----our website:======( http://www.tntn.us)===Believe you will love it.

Zhenglish35
Zhenglish35

our website:=====( http://www.tntn.us)=====free shippingaccept paypal credit cardlower price fast shippment with higher qualityBEST QUALITY GUARANTEE!!SAFTY & HONESTY GUARANTEE!!FAST & PROMPT DELIVERY GUARANTEE!!Air jordan(1-24)shoes $30=====Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $35===Hndbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $35===Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $16=====Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $30=====Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,Armaini) $15===New era cap $10===Sunglass $ 15COACH_Necklace $ 27handbag $ 33AF tank woman $ 17puma slipper woman $ 30Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $25---FREE SHIPPING,accept paypal-very good shopping -----our website:======( http://www.tntn.us)===Believe you will love it.

Zhenglish35
Zhenglish35

our website:=====( http://www.tntn.us)=====free shippingaccept paypal credit cardlower price fast shippment with higher qualityBEST QUALITY GUARANTEE!!SAFTY & HONESTY GUARANTEE!!FAST & PROMPT DELIVERY GUARANTEE!!Air jordan(1-24)shoes $30=====Nike shox(R4,NZ,OZ,TL1,TL2,TL3) $35===Hndbags(Coach lv fendi d&g) $35===Tshirts (Polo ,ed hardy,lacoste) $16=====Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $30=====Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,Armaini) $15===New era cap $10===Sunglass $ 15COACH_Necklace $ 27handbag $ 33AF tank woman $ 17puma slipper woman $ 30Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $25---FREE SHIPPING,accept paypal-very good shopping -----our website:======( http://www.tntn.us)===Believe you will love it.

linbo4
linbo4

Versace is a name with resonance in the fashion industry due to the amazingly style and high quality. Shop the latest Versace boots handpicked by a global community of independent trendsetters and stylists. Offer cheap replica Versace women’s boots and sell at a discount. The Versace boot is on sale now. Take a look at these crazy Versace Cut-Out Platform Boots! You can't stop looking at them! No matter what age, what the weather is outside, it is important that everyone should wears some kind of eye protection. Our shop offers Cheap Sunglasses, a wide range of sunglasses and goggles. You can from soozone.com website choose your favorite cheap Sunglasses. Now what really knocked me out are the cheap sunglasses.Oakley store online news and Oakley store online reviews help you know more detailed information about Oakley store online. Our Oakley Sunglasses online shop is your best choice!Many fashion & top quality replica Oakley sunglasses are cheap sale for men & women online. It is a wiser approach for online purchasing Oakley sunglasses because you are able to clearly compare the appearance and preciseness of the replica. Buy Oakley Sunglasses online with confidence.

linbo4
linbo4

Our online shop, soozone.com ,sells all brands of products, such as Versace,Oakley,Lacoste, Armani , Diesel and so on. We sincerely provide various cheap and high quality products in online shops. Welcome to and have a look! Specially, this season We introduced many high quality Versace boot and cheap Oakley sunglasses. Versace boot has Various sample color and various styles, you bound to select a pair your favorite boot. If you buy more, the price would be even cheaper. Attention everybody! There are many cheap sunglasses, especially Oakley sunglasses. Oakley sunglasses is not only style vogue, but also the colour diversity. The most important is cheap. Come on! Don’t miss!

Elwa
Elwa

This is so sad. Le obviously was unaware of the strength of the current when he stepped in the water. Some city kids just don't see the danger - they have too much time in front of edited television and movies!!!

There is a difference between rescue and recovery. When a grown man falls in an icy river, if his head doesn't pop up after ten or so minutes, then he is getting no oxygen and will die. Le probably hit his head when he fell and didn't feel another thing. If he was pinned against a log he had little chance.

Nothing here is the fault of the rescue team. He had no chance of rescue. The rescuers couldn't even have assembled on the spot before he was dead - he had only ten minutes or so once he fell. The sad truth is that no one could have gotten there in time.

So when all that is left is recovery, why risk lives, why not wait until the swollen river subsides? Le didn't deserve to die and no else deserved to die to recover his body. Then no other lives are at risk.

I hope the family will figure this out and stop beating themselves and others up over this. It is terribly sad.

Not SAR Much
Not SAR Much

Pretty slanted article. Searching for some lost in a river (or anywhere for that matter), carries significant danger. Often times search and rescue personnel are injured and sometimes even killed in chopper crashes. And in many cases, they are volunteers. Highly trained, but volunteers. So when the call is made to turn it to a "recovery", (and the professionals know when this is the case, even if it's not shared with the family), it's time to pull back the searchers from danger. As long as there's hope an individual may be found alive, the searchers are out doing their thing. But afterward, there's a need to minimize potential risk. And there's no way the pros are going to advise family members or volunteers on where or how to look due to huge liability. If ANYTHING happens to an advised "amateur", it's open the checkbook time for the County.

Sad, but that's just the way it is. There is presently no good mechanism to search for people lost in the outdoors and not found.

Jim
Jim

Even as someone who did not even know if the name Joe Le before the Friday he went missing, I was extremely frustrated by the poor follow-up of professional help. I cannot begin to fathom how the family felt. News reports in all forms of media were claiming that professional efforts would have continued the next morning and I was surprised when I got there Saturday morning to find a parking lot full of hikers. As frustrating as this was, it was equally as uplifting to see untrained strangers and friends to band together.

Thank you for bringing this story out to the public, from beginning to end and especially getting to the source. Good reporting!

Pitstop
Pitstop

Don't really know exactly what happened but that's a lot of heat being put on the Officials. They are the professionals they know when it is safe and when it isn't to enter the water. The volunteers as stated in the article have no clue and no expertise so they might not know the danger they put themselves into. I'm just glad they found and were able to retrieve the body without adding additional body counts.

Cn
Cn

I think that if my family member was out there stuck in the water, I would be just as upset that officials aren't doing anything but stand around even if it is a "recovery" and not a "rescue". It is understandable that they are frustrated. They just lost a loved one.

Nonetheless, I don't think this excuses the officials from doing their part. On that Sunday, the officials did not even arrive on scene until 1pm and I believe it was because of the backpack discovery. Then they stood around on a cliff parking lot overlooking the coyote flats area where the river runs through. Not once did they go even go near the waters except to place caution tape around the area the backpack was found and when the body was found. It really disappointed me. If I had to depend on these guys, the body probably would have been found in June when the river is shallow enough to reveal him.

I think if a trio of volunteers could find him combing through debris in freezing while tied to a rope, the officials could have done something more than stare... or if they believe it was so dangerous that they cannot enter the river then they should do something when untrained civilians are risking their lives to recover someone's loved one right before their eyes. But they did neither and that is most upsetting.

At least this article credits the people who actually did something and I am glad that Joe can finally rest in peace.

Bobgerber54
Bobgerber54

Wow how stupid the amatuer rescues are.  They have no idea how dangeous what they did was.  Not a clue

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Fashion

General

Loading...