Officials searching for man

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By CHRIS BATEMAN

A massive search is under way for a mentally handicapped Salida man who wandered away from his family's Stanislaus National Forest camp site Saturday morning.

Manuel Santiago, 41, a Filipino man, was last seen at the Cascade Creek Campground 11 miles east of Pinecrest at the 6,000-foot level about 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Lourdes Santiago reported her son missing at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and told authorities he had no food or water, was without required prescription medication and had no warm clothing.

In addition, his family said, Santiago has the mental capacity of a 6- to 10-year-old and might not realize the gravity of his situation.

An extensive, day-long search Saturday afternoon and yesterday involved helicopters, motorcycles and foot crews and mounted patrols. It proved fruitless.

During the nights temperatures in the region dipped into the 40s cold but survivable.

Yesterday, the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office asked for mutual aid from the California Office of Emergency Services and the effort was redoubled at first light today.

Search-and-rescue teams from Stanislaus, Calaveras, Mariposa and Mono counties, three search-dog teams, all-terrain and four-wheel-drive vehicles, helicopters and mounted patrols were all out looking today. Scores of officers, search-and-rescue specialists and volunteers were in the field by late morning.

Sheriff's Lt. Keith Lunney, in charge of patrol, said Santiago's mental condition and that he was without food or water lent urgency to the effort.

Lunney said anyone who was camping or driving in the Cascade Creek area and might have seen Santiago should call the sheriff's office at 533-5815.

The missing man is described as 5 feet, 6 inches tall, 155 pounds, with black hair and dark-colored eyes. He was last seen wearing a purple shirt with white stripes, dark pants and tennis shoes.

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The Union Democrat
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