Deer Creek Incident - Memorial Day Weekend

Ventura County Fire Department responds to a hang glider who went down on the rocks near Deer Creek on Monday, May 27.

It was a welcome reprise to Malibu residents this past Memorial Day Weekend as bumper-to-bumper traffic on Pacific Coast Highway just did not materialize.  It appeared hordes of beachgoers decided to stay home as foul weather threw a monkey wrench in holiday plans. 

The official sartorial start of summer was greeted with rain jackets and umbrellas as unsettled weather moved through the Malibu area. The unofficial start of summer was even slower than usual on Monday when the clouds finally parted way for a beautiful, sunny and more temperate holiday. 

Cold weather, wind and a small craft advisory Saturday evening kept area beaches mostly quiet over the weekend, according to Ocean Lifeguard Specialist for the Los Angeles County Fire Department Pono Barnes. The public information officer told The Malibu Times with water temperatures hovering around 56 degrees “it’s a little bit chilly for this time of year”—in other words, a wetsuit was definitely in order. 

 “Due to the unfavorable weather, we had slightly slower attendance at our beaches,” Barnes said. 

From Saturday, May 25, through Monday, May 27, a total of 55,600 visitors made their way to Malibu-area beaches, from Topanga to Nicholas Canyon, according to numbers provided by Monica Dornic of the Lifeguard Recruitment Unit. In total, there were 1,230 “prevents,” where lifeguards prevented dangerous activities; there were also a total of 35 minor medical calls, four rescues and 603 ordinance enforcements.

Those numbers were a little more than half of what they were back in 2016—the last time The Malibu Times published lifeguards’ estimates. They also show a continuous rate of decline. In 2015, there were reportedly 203,000 total beach visitors for the Memorial Day holiday. The year before, in 2014, the number was 363,000 for the three-day weekend.

Aside from the high-profile search for a missing woman last seen in Malibu, the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s station reported a quiet weekend in town. Lt. G. Minster said because of poor weather there was not a lot of activity. He reported the missing woman, 30-year-old Jennifer Michelle Lorber of Colorado, is still unaccounted for and said, “there were no leads to go on at this point” as of Tuesday morning.

Malibu Search and Rescue has also been involved in the search for Lorber, working in the overnight hours in an attempt to locate her after her car was found. Otherwise, MSAR was requested to assist in the rescue of a missing hiker in Escondido Falls on Sunday. The team was called Monday evening in Malibu Creek State Park to locate another missing hiker who was eventually located by a ranger. The team also made calls after an alleged drunk driving crash on Kanan over the weekend.  

“That’s a busy holiday weekend, all things considered,” reported David Katz, MSAR team leader. The search and rescue team is on track for another record breaking year of calls for help. So far in 2019, the men and women of Malibu Search and Rescue have made 65 calls “which is five ahead of last year,” according to Katz. “Last year was our record year. We’re nine percent ahead of last year already.” Two of those calls the previous weekend were for cars over the side on Kanan Dume Road.

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