Teens, detectives honored for finding weapon used in violent sexual assault


Late last year, detectives were scouring a condominium complex in search of a weapon used to bludgeon a Huntington Beach woman in a violent sexual assault.

As they looked for the weapon, they noticed the complex had a flowing stream with a number of large ponds, and bushes and vegetation, making the search  difficult.

For assistance searching the pond and stream, detectives reached out to Huntington Beach Marine Safety first. Lifeguard Matt Karl arrived and paddled his surfboard through the pond that evening, searching the streams and pools with a flashlight.

The weapon proved hard to find in the dark so detectives decided to bring out the big guns – a group of teen-agers.

The youth are Explorers in the Huntington Beach Search and Rescue unit.   Led by Search and Rescue Advisor Howard Sharpe eight Explorers found the missing weapon in  a storm drain channel.

Another Search and Rescue advisor, Joel Petersen, commended the Explorers.

“When they were called they responded quickly and conducted a detailed search of the area and found a key piece of evidence that tied the case together,” he said.

With the help of the Explorers, detectives were able to make an arrest. For their efforts Sharpe and Explorers AC Buenaventura, Madeline Martin, Riley Mackinen, Chris Shirran, Quion Juniel, Matthew Curiel, Talon Werner and Blake Thome were presented with Crime Fighter Awards at the annual Huntington Beach Police Awards and Recognition Ceremony held at the Central Library in May.

“Huntington Beach is fortunate to have such an experienced and dedicated group of young Explorers who are there to help with rescue efforts and crime fighting when the need arises,” said Lt. Mitch O’Brien. “Clearly their efforts are worthy of the Crime Fighter Team Award.”

The Huntington Beach Search and Rescue Explorer Post #563 is chartered by the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America/Learning for Life and sponsored by the Huntington Beach Police and Fire Departments. Originally founded it 1962, the Explorer Post has become one of the premier posts in Orange County. It is a nonprofit organization and donations are appreciated.

This co-ed youth program exposes high school and college age men and women to careers in the emergency services field. It is open to ages 15 to 18 for new members, with a maximum age of 19 for participation.

The Explorers, who number about 25, complete 5,000 hours of training and provide 4,500 hours of service to Huntington Beach residents. Click here for more on the Explorer training.

Petersen said the police department is relying on the Explorers a lot more. In addition to the incident last year, the Explorers recently helped the police department find a gun used in a robbery and other key pieces of evidence.

“The last six to nine months we are getting called out on a regular basis,” he said.