On Nov. 14, 2020, at about 8 p.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the 1600 block of Peninsula Drive near Manila for the report of a missing person.
According to the reporting party, 30-year-old Travis Privat was spending time at the beach with friends when he returned to the parking area to walk a friend back to their car. When Privat began to return to the beach, he reportedly became lost in the dunes and never re-joined his friends.
Privat’s friends contacted law enforcement, who immediately began a search and rescue operation. Sheriff’s Deputies searched the trail system on foot and by UTV, while the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Sector Humboldt Bay assisted in searching by helicopter for Privat.
After several hours of searching in darkness with no results, the search was suspended until daylight the next morning.
On November 15, at about 8 a.m., Sheriff’s deputies, the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Posse and the USCG resumed search operations for Privat. During this time, Privat contacted the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Emergency Operations Center and notified dispatchers that he had safely walked out of the dunes and was calling from a residence nearby.
Deputies contacted Privat, who was uninjured and in good spirits. Privat told deputies that he had taken an alternate trail which he had believed led back to the beach. The trail instead took him into the area of the Ma-le’l Dunes. During this time, Privat’s phone died. Privat reportedly saw the helicopter looking for him but was unable to get to an area where he would be visible. Privat decided to stop near some trees and wait until daylight to hike out.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the USCG and the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Posse for their assistance with this search.
With sunset now happening earlier in the evening, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public to take caution and be prepared when hiking or accessing the beach.
Even if you are just planning a short day hike, be sure to:
- Carry a flashlight.
- Bring extra water and high-energy foods.
- Pack a small first aid kit.
- Dress properly for a hike and prepare for changes in the weather by bringing rain gear or a jacket.
- Tell somewhere where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Stay on an established trail and if in an unfamiliar area, bring a map.
- Be sure to charge your cell phone prior to leaving home.
If you do become lost while hiking and are unable to find your way out, the best thing to do is to stay where you are and call 9-1-1.