Missing Watsonville Hiker Found Injured

Nicholas Welch was missing for over a day near Wilder Ranch State Park.

A hiker reported lost in the redwoods east of Davenport in Santa Cruz County today has been located, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.

Watsonville resident Nicolas Welch had departed from the 1100 block of Empire Grade, northeast of Santa Cruz and just east of Wilder Ranch State Park, on Saturday around 10 a.m., according to Lt. Steve Carney.

Welch had intended to hike 15 miles to Big Creek Road near Davenport, but his family became concerned when he did not arrive in the evening. They called the sheriff's office early Sunday morning.

The sheriff's office deployed ground teams, overhead aerial support and canine teams, and were able to narrow the search after a hiker reported a suspicious male.

Welch was found a short time later near Big Creek Power Supply Dam and transported out of the area, Carney said.

He had apparently become disoriented and tried to find his way out, but been unable to do so. He was dehydrated and had minor injuries.

Welch was reunited with his family, which had remained in the area throughout the search.

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