Spielberg money ends relative's horror

July 24, 1992|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- With budget cuts grounding the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department helicopter fleet, film director Steven Spielberg hired private choppers to search for -- and rescue -- his nephew who was missing in the Angeles National Forest.

Spending between $3,000 and $4,000 for the two-hour search yesterday, the family of hiker Christopher Simon, 23, a nephew of Mr. Spielberg's wife, Kate Capshaw, opted to hire its own search team rather than wait for overtime authorization required by the Sheriff's Department prior to activating a chopper, officials said.

Suffering a broken ankle, cuts, bruises and dehydration after being missing for two days, Mr. Simon, 23, of Los Angeles, was listed in stable condition last night at Verdugo Hills Hospital in the Los Angeles-area city of Glendale, authorities said.

"We're not in the search-and-rescue business," said Gary Farrell, president of Helinet Aviation Services, whose helicopter was hired by Mr. Spielberg. "I prefer to leave it to authorities. . . I think it's a real shame that the [Los Angeles County] supervisors can't find money to take care of this."

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