My gratitude goes out to Sheriff Kerry Lee and the many Search and Rescue Volunteers who helped find Tammie Roitman after our day hike in Gleason Canyon near the homestead. Bruce Burgess and Tyler Peterson invited Tammie and me for a day hike in the desert. As everybody knows, those two are excellent trackers, know the terrain up there, and always find the youth who run from the Center. No one gets “lost” from the Center. We were not so lucky.
The three of us returned to the day camp, knowing she was behind because she loves to hunt for quartz crystals and keeps her head down while hiking. It started getting late, but Titan, our dog, was with her. No one worried until we heard barking, then saw the dog 100 feet above us on the cliff. Why would he be there without her? Bruce, Tyler and I searched and searched calling out to her, hearing nothing. Bruce, Tyler and their buddy Dane (I think), stayed out there with lights, continuing the search until 2 am. You can imagine how difficult it was to get through the night not knowing where she was.
Tammie later said that night, after she made camp on a ridge far away, she saw a flash of light which must have been them searching, which helped oriented her. In tee shirt and shorts, she had only a lighter to make a small protected fire, heat some large rocks, so when she fell asleep, they radiated heat. The next day she walked up the ridge, located the “landmark” above Panaca, and figured, based on that and the light the night before, which way to walk. I don’t know his name, but the officer with fish and game out at 4:30 am the crack of dawn, found two sets of tracks. The Sheriff rounded up his team at the Y. Everyone, treating the situation seriously, and me, up from Las Vegas, with respect, struck out toward the canyon. At Sheriff’s Lee’s direction, we gathered in a nearby camping area, and paired us off into sectors. I was worried she was disabled and unconscious, which is why the dog came back alone. All I wanted to do was search the cliffs because in my mind, she must have slipped and was caught in a crevasse, maybe unconscious because she did not respond to our calls.
Sheriff stayed confident and in control. Everyone showed him respect, were a team, and clearly knew what they were doing. So many people, coming out to help Tammie and me, as though we were just neighbors, warmed my heart. Again I saw how wonderful it was to be part of a small community like yours.
Tammie was picked up on the right road by the Fish and Game Officer and climbed into his ATV. She probably would have made the next 10 miles or so on her own, as it turned out, since she was headed in the right direction. Besides scrapes and a torn shirt, Tammie was in much better shape than I was. Being a clinical hypnotherapist, she practiced what she preached, calmed herself and thought clearly there in mountain lion country, in 40 degree weather, all night long. She set her priorities and prevented panic, and earned her wilderness credit.
I read the Record every month when I come up. I already knew your community is a gem. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to see clearly the advantages of knowing your neighbors and friends, and being able to pull together when someone is in need. Thank you all so much, especially Bruce and Tyler and Dane, who would not give up, and Sheriff Lee and the Search and Rescue posse, for helping to make a happy ending.
Norton A. Roitman, MD
Psychiatric consultant, Caliente Youth Center