Family finds missing father 6 days after wreck
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. - David Lavau’s children drove slowly along the perilously curved mountain road, stopping to peer over the treacherous drop-offs and call out for their father, missing for six days.
Then, finally, a faint cry: “Help, help.’’
Close to a week after his car plunged 200 feet into a ravine, Lavau, 68, was rescued Thursday by his three adult children, who took matters into their own hands after a detective told them his last cellphone signal came from a rugged section of the Angeles National Forest.
As he lay injured in the woods next to his wrecked car, he survived by eating bugs and leaves and drinking creek water, his children said in TV interviews.
One of the first things he requested after his rescue: a chocolate malt, his daughter Chardonnay Lavau said on NBC’s “Today’’ show.
Lavau was in serious but stable condition yesterday with three rib fractures, a dislocated shoulder, a broken arm, and fractures in his back. He is expected to be released in three or four days after surgery on his shoulder.
Lavau told Dr. Garrett Sutter that he was temporarily blinded by the headlights of an oncoming car but that he does not believe he collided with the vehicle.
However, a second car containing a body was found next to Lavau’s vehicle. That driver’s identity was not released.
Lavau’s children told “Today’’ that after realizing he was missing, they contacted a Los Angeles County sheriff’s detective, who was able to narrow Lavau’s whereabouts through his most recent cellphone use, text messages, and debit card purchases. There is no cellphone service in the sparsely populated area, about 50 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
The children then organized themselves into a search party.
“We stopped at every ravine and looked over every hill, and then my brother got out of the car and we kept screaming, and the next thing, we heard Dad saying, ‘Help, help,’ and there he was,’’ Lisa Lavau said.
Sean Lavau slid down the embankment to reach his father, who was flown to the hospital while firefighters helped his children back up the ravine.
Lavau is expected to make a full recovery and was reported in good spirits.
“He was very desirous of a lobster taco,’’ Sutter said.