Auburn Police officer and son spend a chilly night

By: Gus Thomson
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A deer hunt turned into a cold night in the Sierra for Auburn Police officer James Dalton and his son, with rescue coming in the early-morning hours Monday after an intensive search. Dalton was hunting with his son in the Robinson Flat area east of Foresthill on Sunday when fog rolled in and the two were unable to maintain their bearings and find their way back to a rendezvous site with another officer and his son. Placer County Sheriff’s search and rescue teams hiked with headlamps in the area, searched trails with motorcycles and four-wheel drives and mountain rescuers scoured the rugged terrain. About 30 people participated in the search. Shouts from Dalton and his 17-year-old son were heard around 1 a.m. The two, both Foresthill residents, were located some time later and described by sheriff’s spokesman Dena Erwin as very cold and wet. Dalton, 37, and his son had stayed put and bedded down on plastic bags. Footing was particularly treacherous because of mud from recent rainfalls and a light dusting of snow. After providing warm, dry clothing and a warm drink, rescuers walked the pair to safety, arriving at the Robinson Flat area at 5:30 a.m. Monday. Dalton and his son weren’t available for comment Monday but Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris said her department was grateful for the search and rescue response. “We’re all really glad he was fine,” Harris said. “And I can’t say enough good things about search and rescue.” Harris said two Auburn Police officers joined the effort and were able to alert her early in the morning that Dalton and his son were OK. Reports Harris heard were that the Daltons had tracked a deer and caught up with it as the fog front moved into the area. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at