The helicopter flew over us all morning.
They yelled out "Alfonzo", but the silence was startling. There was no answer.
The San Bernardino Sheriff's Office searched for a missing hiker who called them at 5:30 the night before. He told the 911 operator he was stuck on a ledge, didn't know where, but heard water.
That same night before, we climbed back down Mt. San Jacinto after a two hour ascend. Jake, David and I couldn't feel our hands any longer. Rain poured on us and wind ripped into our sides. The conditions so bad, it was as though God was playing a joke. All we could do was laugh as precipitation kept pounding harder. Our clothes, despite rain gear, soaked to our bones.
The search and rescue team climbed rocks, coordinated on their radio, and blew their high-pitched whistles. Alfonzo was no where in-sight. Water rushed down the mountain from melting snow.
I've covered stories like this before, specifically when fisherman Jeremy Brewer went missing from Oologah Lake in 2012. The story was sad. The boat tipped over and Jeremy sank to the bottom of the lake. His coveralls filled up with water, a force he couldn't fight.
Dan Brewer, Jeremy's father, cried every day during our interviews. I was there from the time Dan arrived until we watched troopers pull his son's body out of the water. Dan's last wish-- to kiss his son and tell him he loved him.
I saw and felt Dan's pain but I was still removed from the situation. An objective journalist. It's not that I lack empathy, I'm just numb to it all since that's my constant reality. This was the first time I actually felt intense fear for this hiker and sadness for his family as they waited by the phone. The emotions stirred up inside me because I know it could so easily have been me.