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Popular Teacher Ed Cavanaugh Missing in CA Wilderness

Ed Cavanaugh was last seen riding his dirt bike on July 17th in the Rock Creek trail area, but the avid outdoors man has not been seen or heard from since.
Debbie Schultz
Ed Cavanaugh hasn't been seen or heard from since July 17th.Debbie Schultz

A massive search is underway in El Dorado County, California, for missing San Francisco teacher Ed Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh, 45, was last seen Friday, July 17th, riding his blue Yamaha YZ 250 motorcycle along the Rock Creek trail area. He was out with a friend in the El Dorado National forest, but reportedly took off on his own around midday, according to sheriff’s officials. That was ten days ago.

The outdoor experience teacher has led dozens of backpacking trips and excursions with students through his work with programs such as “Get Out and Learn” and “Urban Pioneers,” which makes his disappearance all the more puzzling. Extensive searches along the terrain have yielded few clues.

“It’s as if he vanished into thin air,” sister Debbie Cavanaugh Schultz told Dateline NBC. “I thank each and every person who comes out to help and they just say, ‘No, Ed would have been first in line if it were me.’”

The teacher has a cabin in the area with a group of friends and that’s where a surveillance camera captured the last images of him, hopping on his bike around 11:00am to take on the trails. He was wearing Fox brand dirt biking clothing and a black helmet.

The last image of Ed heading to bike trails on July 17th.Debbie Schultz

Several factors grow more alarming as each day passes – the fact that Cavanaugh, a diabetic, may run out of insulin, along with food and water. But if there is one thing Schultz says about her brother, it’s that he doesn’t give up. “If there is anyone who could survive this, it’s him.”

The Sheriff’s Office has K9 units on the ground today and has conducted several helicopter searches, with more planned if Cavanaugh is not located Monday. Teams are also out on motorcycles, quads, and on foot to comb the, at times, treacherous landscape.

Volunteers gather for day ten of the search for Cavanaugh.Debbie Schultz

Schultz and Cavanaugh’s other two siblings flew to California late last week to lend whatever help they can in the search. Schultz says they plan to stay until their brother is brought home.

“When he gets home, he’ll have quite the story to share with his students,” Schultz added. “He’s going to come home, I just know he will. But if anyone in the area has seen anything, no matter how small, it could help. Anything unusual could be a clue. That’s all we ask.”

Ed Cavanaugh is described as 5’11”, weighing 160 lbs with a bald head and a mustache. If you have any information that can help bring him home, please contact the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 621-6600.