A Davis man missing since April 13 has been found safe, just over a week after getting lost in the Lake County wilderness following a car accident, his family said Monday.
Daniel Brian Thompson, 25, embarked on a solo camping trip in a rented Zipcar, which apparently became disabled in a rural area northwest of Clear Lake, his father Brian Thompson said in a phone interview.
“He lost control on gravel, and (the car) went off the road,” Thompson said. With no cell phone reception or other assistance, “he was lost wandering for seven days.”
Daniel Thompson, who reportedly survived on water runoff and pine nuts as he searched for help, surfaced at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the area of the Blue Oaks Campground, a Bureau of Land Management property near Clearlake Oaks, according to Davis police Lt. Paul Doroshov.
Friends and family became concerned last week after Thompson, who is known for keeping in regular contact with them, failed to show up for a dinner meeting with a friend and later his job at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis.
Searchers thought he may have encountered trouble during a bike ride to the Lake Berryessa area until learning this past weekend that Thompson had rented a Zipcar out of downtown Sacramento.
Berkeley resident Luke Macaulay discovered the abandoned car Saturday evening as he hunted wild pigs in an area of thick brush off Walker Ridge Road, a dirt roadway located off Highway 20.
“It was way down a steep embankment,” about 100 yards down from the road, Macaulay, 32, said in a phone interview. The car was clean, with its passenger door open and the key still in the ignition, indicating the accident had just recently occurred.
Macaulay took photos of the vehicle, registered its GPS coordinates and checked the glove compartment, which contained a wallet and driver’s license. He took the items back to his camp, where his girlfriend — who happens to be a UCD postdoctoral student — googled the name on her cell phone and learned the car’s renter had been reported missing. The couple then called Davis police to report the find.
“I’m just glad he’s OK,” Macaulay said.
Thompson declined an interview request from The Enterprise. But he posted a status update on a Facebook page dedicated to the search for him before it was taken down Monday:
“Y’all, A: Tell people when you camp by yourself. B: Drive carefully on gravel. C: Learn edible plants in your area, because when you find yourself lost on BLM land without a car, cellphone, or kit, runoff and pine nuts make a (lousy) diet.”
Brian Thompson said his son grew up learning about edible plants in his native Utah, and pine nuts were a particular favorite.
“That was a treat for us growing up, always,” he said. But after the events of the past week, “he may never want to eat them again.”
— Reach Lauren Keene at email@example.com or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene