By AMY LINDBLOM
A Modesto man, last seen on July 29 after his car crashed on Highway 108 west of Peter Pam housing subdivision near Cold Springs, was found dead yesterday by a group of his friends.
The body of Andrew Longenbaugh, 64, was found about 1 p.m. down a steep hillside about 800 yards from a fire road, said Gary Kailes, one of Longenbaugh's friends
"We could have used 1,000 people and searched that area a long time and not found him, it was that rugged," said Kailes, also of Modesto. "It was almost miraculous that we found him."
Longenbaugh was seen running into the woods after crashing his gold 1994 Toyota Corolla into the side of a hill about 8 a.m. the 29th, said California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Wills.
"Witnesses said he got out of his car holding his head and ran into the woods," Wills said.
Fire department crews called to the accident that morning searched the area looking for Longenbaugh, but when he wasn't found, the search was called off.
"Sometimes people don't want to be found," Wills said.
On July 30, Modesto Police with a dog team and several Tuolumne County Sheriff's deputies also scoured the area unsuccessfully.
The group of friends, mostly from the Modesto area, and Longenbaugh's brother, Keith, from Tucson, Ariz., had posted fliers in campgrounds and businesses from Cold Springs to Kennedy Meadows. The flier said Longenbaugh had been depressed lately and was released from Stanislaus Behavioral Center on July 27.
Longenbaugh was a retired Stanislaus County probation officer, and those who searched for him were also from the probation department, said Kailes.
"We are more than friends. We are like a brotherhood," Kailes said.
The group, coordinated by Joe Maxwell, decided to search the crash area again. They first went down a ravine near the crash site, but decided it was not a likely spot for Longenbaugh to go because of the impassable conditions. With help from Cold Springs residents Jon and Diana Kinsey, who are familiar with the area, the group went down another ravine.