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Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team rescues stranded hikers, motorist


YAVAPAI COUNTY – The Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team has performed two rescues recently, one for a group of hikers and another for a stranded motorist.

On July 14, a caller reported that her husband and three of his friends, along with three dogs, were overdue coming back from a camping trip in the West Clear Creek area of Camp Verde. The group of men, all in their late 30s, was expected back the previous day and her husband was due for work that morning. She did note the foursome were experienced backpackers and should have ample food and water. Her attempts to contact anyone in the party by phone were unsuccessful. Deputies noted that those who hike in this canyon often underestimate the time necessary to exit the canyon due to the difficult terrain.

The following morning, July 15, she still had not heard from anyone. Deputies drove to the Bull Pen campground area and located a couple of unoccupied vehicles associated with the group. A Forest Patrol deputy began coordinating a search effort and requested an aerial flyover from DPS Ranger. The Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team’s Back Country Unit was also called out and was staged by 11:30 a.m. The DPS Ranger crew had flown over the canyon several times but could not initially locate the missing hikers.

Their efforts continued throughout the afternoon and just after 2:30 p.m., DPS Ranger spotted the group about five miles from the Bull Pen Campground. The Ranger crew landed and determined the men and their dogs would need assistance getting safely out of the canyon due to some minor injuries. The Back Country team devised a plan to use a rope line to help the hikers and their dogs out of the canyon. Just after 7 p.m., all four hikers and their dogs were safely removed from the canyon thanks to the great work by the Back Country team. Food and water were provided, and all refused medical attention before leaving.

 On July 26, at approximately 2 p.m., a 62-year-old Fountain Hills resident called and stated his vehicle was stuck in a very remote area. He said he had taken a wrong turn while attempting to reach Crown King and could no longer move his SUV. The stranded man had no food or water. Using GPS from the 911 call, deputies were able to map his approximate location. A Forest Patrol deputy assigned to the rescue knew this area well and noted the “road” is extremely rugged, even for quads, and presented a risk to rescuers. Due to the time it would take for a Quad team to reach the stranded man safely which would require rescuers to travel at dusk and eventually darkness, the Forest Patrol deputy requested YCSO’s Rescue 1 helicopter to assist. The Rescue 1 pilot was able to fly to the area and airlift the man to safety by 5 p.m. His vehicle will be removed at a later date. Rescue 1 has been proven as an extremely valuable tool and in this case, prevented the need to risk the safety of a volunteer search and rescue team.

Yavapai County led the State in rescues for fiscal year 15/16 and the tremendous work by Forest Patrol deputies, search and rescue teams, and the Rescue 1 pilots continues.