A man from Ventura was found dead in the mountains of southern Santa Barbara County Thursday morning following a dayslong search after he left his girlfriend behind to get help when she began suffering heat exhaustion.
The body of 29-year-old Tim Sgrignoli was found around 9:30 a.m. Thursday near Gaviota State Park along Highway 101, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
Sgrignoli was on a hike with his girlfriend Sunday when she began to experience symptoms of heat exhaustion, according to Capt. Scott Safechuck, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
The Ventura man left his girlfriend behind to get help, but instead became the subject of a search after Santa Barbara County fire crews located and rescued his girlfriend.
The two were hiking along Trespass Trail, a popular but challenging 6-mile hike that weaves through the hills above Gaviota. The trail features an ocean view, cave formations and a hot spring along the path, making it popular for tourists, but it can also be easy to get lost on.
For four days, law enforcement officers, search and rescue volunteers, and county fire personnel searched the mountains above Gaviota State Park in hopes of finding Sgrignoli.
Authorities used all-terrain vehicles, scent-sniffing dogs and cadaver dogs to search for the missing man. They also investigated conflicting reports that he may have been seen walking on the highway and was possibly picked up on the side of the road.
At least 60 people assisted in the search and were aided by both helicopters and unmanned drones, Safechuck said.
On Monday, Safechuck announced that the search would transition to the authority of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, although he did not elaborate why.
At 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Raquel Zick, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, announced that Sgrignoli’s body had been found in an undisclosed location between the trail and the highway.
The cause of his death is under investigation, but Zick said foul play is not suspected.
Zick added that heat was likely a contributing factor in his death. The temperature at the time when he was reported missing was in the mid- to high-90s.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says heat-related illnesses can be prevented with proper preparation. Tips to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke include staying hydrated, staying informed on current conditions and avoiding outdoor physical activity when temperatures are high.
For more tips, click here.