California Deputy Lowered from Helicopter Inadvertently Drops on Bear Family


One Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy had a bit of a shock earlier this month when he was nearly dropped onto a startled bear sow and its family. The incident occurred in the Angeles National Forest when Deputy Ricky Hernandez was being lowered from a helicopter to investigate what was believed to be a stolen car. The sheriff’s office did not specify how the car came to be abandoned within the forest, but Hernandez quickly found out that it was not empty. According to KABC, the helicopter crew spotted a family of bears within the car after Hernandez had already begun descending towards the vehicle. The crew attempted to warn the deputy, but lost radio contact, resulting in Hernandez startling a large sow.

The bear decided to run off rather than confront Hernandez and the deputy was able to complete his investigation of the stolen vehicle.

“The vehicle was all torn up. All the liner and upholstery was cut up and made into a nest. I entered the vehicle […] when I got inside I noticed two or three bear cubs inside there,” Hernandez said, adding that there appeared to be no human remains.

Believing that the mother bear would likely return soon, the deputy wasted little time in getting back in the helicopter. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office wrote online that they did not pursue the bear.

Hernandez is an ESD paramedic serving with the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB). According to the sheriff’s office, the primary goal of the SEB is to save lives and the unit is often found engaged in rescues of stranded or injured hikers. The SEB responds to about 200 to 300 tactical operations every year.

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