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Missing Mariposa snowboarders rescued

Heavy snow fall in the high Sierra mountains — putting the snowpack at about 125 percent of average for February— contributed to a precarious situation for three Mariposa snowboarders who went missing in Yosemite Monday.

Ryan Westbrook, 28, and his twin brothers Cody and Dillon, both 16, were rescued at about 2 p.m. Tuesday by a helicopter rescue crew that spotted them near the South Fork of the Merced River. “All three ran toward the helicopter, which was a really good sign,” said Adrienne Freeman, Yosemite National Park spokeswoman.

Although she didn’t yet have any details on their exact medical conditions, “everything indicates they are in good health. All are responsive.”

A friend of the three Mariposa residents dropped them off Monday afternoon north of the Chinquapin area, off Wawona Road. Their planned route was to Yosemite West.

But they didn’t meet back up with their ride at the drop-off point as planned. They were reported missing at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Yosemite and Mariposa County search and rescue teams hunted for the snowboarders until midnight, and began again early Tuesday morning, Freeman said.

More than 65 people, including crews on the ground and by helicopter, participated in the search. The area hosted steep terrain and frigid temperatures, raising health and safety concerns for both the lost party and rescue crews.