Search on for Santa Barbara County employee who did not return from hike

Wesley Welch

Rescue crews are searching in the Los Padres National Forest for a Santa Barbara County employee who did not return from a three-day hike on time. 

Wesley Welch is a business manager and fiscal and policy analyst who works for the Santa Barbara County Executive Office, according to the county’s website. Welch set out Friday morning along with his dog on a 40-mile hike in the Sisquoc Canyon area of Santa Barbara County. 

Welch was attempting to complete the Lower Sisquoc Loop in three days and two nights, according to the Los Padres Forest Association. He planned to hike the loop clockwise and spend the two nights at the Mormon and White Ledge camps.

The planned hike was seen as ambitious given the distance, time frame and heat. Welch has now missed his return time by more than 24 hours.

Santa Barbara search and rescue crews spent the day on Monday combing Welch’s planned route with a helicopter assisting foot patrols. Officials determined Welch signed various registers along the trail.

Based on information obtained, rescue crews are expected to be concentrating their search in a smaller area Tuesday morning. Anyone who was hiking in the area over the weekend is asked to contact the Los Padres Forest Association or Santa Barbara County rescue workers.