Ex-NFL player Erik Affholter tells police missing-hiker report a misunderstandingThe search for Erik Affholter started about 10 p.m. Sunday after his girlfriend told authorities he hadn't returned as expected from a day hike, Simi Valley police said. Police and Ventura County sheriff's search-and-rescue teams set up a command center at the Simi Valley Metrolink station to search for Affholter, 46, of Simi Valley.
By: By Adam Foxman, Ventura County Star, Calif., Superior Telegram
A former NFL player was reported missing Sunday after he failed to return from a hike in Simi Valley, but police determined Monday that he was apparently fine and canceled a search for him.
The search for Erik Affholter started about 10 p.m. Sunday after his girlfriend told authorities he hadn't returned as expected from a day hike, Simi Valley police said. Police and Ventura County sheriff's search-and-rescue teams set up a command center at the Simi Valley Metrolink station to search for Affholter, 46, of Simi Valley.
They ended the search about 1 p.m. Monday after confirming Affholter had talked on the phone with his former wife in Arizona as late as 8 a.m. Monday and spoken with his mother Sunday night, Simi Valley police Sgt. Craig Dungan said.
About 2:30 p.m. Monday, a Simi Valley detective received a phone message from Affholter saying he was fine and apologizing for the misunderstanding, Dungan said.
Affholter didn't say much more and the audio on the message was poor, Dungan said. He sounded fine, but authorities were still working to contact him directly.
"We still need to lay eyeballs on him before we can close the case," Dungan said.
Affholter's mother told detectives he routinely goes hiking for a day or more without telling friends and family, Dungan said.
While this incident appeared to be a misunderstanding, Dungan said, "Anytime we think there's a suspected missing person where we think someone's in trouble, we're going to put forth the effort."
Affholter's girlfriend reported that she dropped Affholter off at a trailhead behind the Metrolink station at 5050 Los Angeles Ave. about 10 a.m. Sunday for a hike and expected him to return in the afternoon, police said.
Bill Tollett, 67, the woman's father, was at the station Monday morning as police searched for Affholter. Tollett, of Chatsworth, said Affholter was unemployed and thinking of going into golf professionally. Affholter had borrowed Tollett's truck to visit family in Arizona and returned recently, he said.
Dozens of sheriff's search-and-rescue volunteers scoured the hills of Simi Valley, Oak Park and Agoura for about 12 hours, officials said. They used all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, dog teams and a sheriff's helicopter.
Affholter's girlfriend described him as an avid hiker but unfamiliar with trails in the Simi Valley area, police said. He was carrying two golf clubs, a walking stick and a backpack but no cellphone.
Affholter broke a national record when he made a 64-yard field goal in 1982 while he was a junior at Oak Park High School.
He played football at USC and spent two seasons as a wide receiver in the NFL, playing for the Green Bay Packers in 1991 and the San Diego Chargers in 1992, according to the NFL's website. He made seven receptions for a total of 68 yards during his NFL career.
He later coached high school football teams here and in Arizona.
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