The 68-year-old man had survived six days on his own after his car veered off a California road and plunged down a 200 foot ravine. La Vau had survived on creek water and bugs, and is currently recovering from multiple injuries in the intensive care unit of a Santa Clarita hospital.
Sadly, another missing person, Melvin Gelfand an 88-year old veteran, was found dead in his vehicle in the same ravine--Mr. Gelfand had been missing for almost two weeks longer than Mr. La Vau.
Not content with sitting and waiting, La Vau's family found David after launching their own ground search for him:
...A sheriff's detective helped them determine a general area to look by tracing Lavau's cellphone, but it was a large and remote mountain area with canyons and ravines that could barely be seen from the road.
Once they had that information, they found him quickly, which was essential because he had been living on bugs, leaves and creek water and borrowing Gelfand's glasses for nearly a week.
"It seemed like forever, but it wasn't, we're talking hours," Lavau's son-in-law Jesse Hooker, one of the six in the family search party, said Saturday.
Hooker said family members took matters into their own hands not because they had a big problem with the response of the Sheriff's Department, but they didn't have the patience for police procedure.
"I don't think they did a bad job," said Hooker, husband of Lavau's daughter Chardonnay Hooker. "I know that we weren't willing to wait the time periods we were going to have to."
And Hooker had only praise for Diane Harris, the sheriff's detective who gave the family direction. Hooker said "if she didn't do that, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did."
In the same article, I was disappointed that authorities included this in response to the search effort:
...Sheriff's spokesman Capt. Mike Parker said the department did everything it could on a missing persons case with no evidence of foul play, and called the rescue "remarkable"...
Captain Parker of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department arguing that the "department did everything it could" when family members spearheaded the investigation and search to find their elderly loved one trapped in a life-threatening situation that involved him eating bugs for almost a week?
Now that is ridiculous.
One would expect the sheriff department's spokesman to, at the least, state that his agency's policies and procedures are currently being reviewed to determine if improvements can be made for future missing person investigations.
That the agency's response would be driven by urgency--as in this urgent case considering the man's age and that his cell phone trace resulted in a "ping" leading the family to him in the remote area.
Please Captain, save the CYA talk for the lawyers, the public deserves better.