Missing hiker found safe in San Jose after he separated from church friends

A missing hiker was found safe Monday night in San Jose after a massive hours-long search. The search began around 3 p.m. when 59-year-old Victor Bertagna became separated from two of his church friends while hiking at Alum Rock Park. Then just before 8 p.m., San Jose police located him walking near Alum Rock and Fleming Avenues about four miles away from the park.

“The individual was located off Crothers Road,” said Capt. Joe Staley of San Jose Fire. “He is okay. He wandered into a neighborhood and they are evaluating him medically.”

David Hurtado is his friend and relieved.

“He’s okay,” said Hurtado. “He has a pacemaker and they want to make sure he's not having anything with his heart. He was tired from the walking because he walked from there to here.”

The search began just after 3 p.m. Bertagna and his friends hiked off the trail in search of waterfalls. One of them left the group. Bertagna and Hurtado stayed up there and half a mile up from the parking lot near the top of the hill, they got lost after veering onto private property.

“They were saying get off the property we told them we were looking for a way out and they didn't believe us,” said Hurtado. “They thought we were trespassing so I ran the other way. That’s when me and Victor separated and I lost him.”

Bertagna’s cell phone was turned off. His friends reported him missing to authorities and an all-out search ensued.

“Our urban search and rescue team has specialized off road vehicles to search the trails where they were last known,” said Capt. Staley. “We have helicopters. We have county parks that has four-wheel drive vehicles.”

Authorities were especially concerned given Bertagna's heart condition. Then, around 8 p.m. a home security camera captured Bertagna walking down the street. His friends said he was likely walking home.

“We triangulated our search over to that area we located the individual,” said Capt. Staley. “It’s great news, a great outcome.”

Authorities took him to the hospital for evaluation. They said the search is a reminder why hikers should always travel in groups and never go off the trail.