A day of bike-riding turned into a misadventure for a West Babylon man and his three sons Sunday evening, when the foursome got lost in the expansive 6,000-acre Manorville Hills County Park — and the GPS locator on the father's cellphone failed to connect.
Luckily, Suffolk County police said, the family was able to reach 911 just before their cellphone battery died — and an hourlong search by Seventh Precinct officers eventually located the four, safe and sound.
Police said the 911 call was received at 9:16 p.m. and said officers Brian Koch and Marisa Bruno located the family at 10:18 p.m.
The father, identified by police only as a 41-year-old man, and his sons, aged 13, 10 and 8, went to the park, located on County Road 111, and parked at about 6:30 p.m., police said.
The four then hopped on bikes to ride a trail through the area park and pine barrens. According to the Long Island Parks website, Manorville Hills is estimated to be about 6,000 acres, with bike and hiking trails through woodlands, with often hilly terrain. But the pine barrens and thick underbrush can create a confusing scenario — and officials said even those familiar with trails could become lost.
In fact, on one of the park message boards, some frequent park users recommended not just packing a compass, but also bringing a flare or flare gun — in case you get lost after dark.
Police said when it came to the father and sons, the four became disoriented while attempting to return to their vehicle, which they had left near the park entrance, and said the father tried to access an online GPS locator — but said his cellphone couldn't make the connection.
Police said there were no reported injuries and said no medical attention was needed.