San Diego

Missing Scripps Ranch Hiker Found Dead on El Cajon Mountain

The body of an experienced hiker from Scripps Ranch was found Sunday during an extensive search of El Cajon Mountain in Lakeside, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said. 

Thomas Marc Castiglia, 50, met with a group Saturday morning to hike to Lunch Rock, an advanced trail that Castiglia had hiked before, according to family friends.

Nearly three hours into the hike, at about 10:40 a.m., Castiglia told the group he was experiencing shortness of breath and told the group to go on without him.

Thomas Castiglia separated from his hiking group and has not been seen since. NBC 7's Erika Cervantes has more.

When Castiglia didn't return from the trailhead at around 2:45 p.m., some members of the group began to get concerned and called for help.

Deputies began a search Saturday for Castiglia on El Cajon Mountain in Lakeside. The Sheriff's Lakeside Substation, Search and Rescue Unit, and Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies (ASTREA) all responded.

A body was found at the base of a cliff during this search.

The Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the body was Castiglia Sunday morning. The exact cause of death remains under investigation.

Family friends shared stories about the 50-year-old father, husband and well-known community member at a candlelight vigil at Hoyt Park on Sunday. 

"Everybody knows him, everybody knows him and all good things. Everybody gives him a hug, pats on the back, 'Atta boy,' 'How's Martha, How's Ben? How's your business.' It's a tough act to follow," said David Leveille, a friend of Castiglia. 

Castiglia was described as a man who would do anything for his family, his wife and 18-year-old son, and was always offering a hand to his friends. 

"His house was always open. When I first moved to San Diego I needed a place to stay, I crashed on their couch downstairs for 3-weeks until I found a place," Leveille said. 

His friends started a GoFundMe to help Castiglia's family with funeral expenses.

A memorial service is scheduled for Feb. 5 from 10 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. at Saint Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Miramar Ranch North.

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