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Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Rescues Many Unprepared in Monsoon Weather

Sedona AZ (July 20, 2018) – Over the past few days, Arizona’s Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit responded to multiple events helping people unprepared by monsoon weather events in northern Arizona. The CCSO Search and Rescue Unit reminds those recreating outdoors to pay attention to area weather forecasts and to be prepared for changing conditions. Severe weather may impact the ability of public safety personnel to respond to some northern Arizona locations.

Be reminded that outdoor recreation may require users to care for themselves using their own survival equipment until help arrives.

On July 18, 2018, at approximately 10:20 in the morning, CCSO Search and Rescue Unit, Guardian Medical Transport, and the Summit Fire District responded to a report that a tree had fallen on a Humphrey’s Peak trail worker. During the coordinated response, severe weather including heavy rain, hail, and lightning occurred in the area causing difficulty for responders. Personnel from the Arizona Snowbowl assisted in locating and transporting the injured worker to its facility’s parking lot and into an awaiting ambulance.

As the rescue on Humphrey’s Trail drew to an end, Search and Rescue received notification that a hiking party of two adults, two children, and a dog were stranded by severe weather in the Viet Springs area. Rescuers hiked to the party’s location and assisted all back to the trailhead and their vehicle. No one in the hiking party needed any medical care.

At approximately noon that same day, the Search and Rescue Unit was notified of a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) emergency activation in Paria Canyon, upstream from Wrather Arch, an area under a flash flood warning the evening before. The PLB was registered to a 65-year-old female from Australia. It was determined through an interview with the hiker’s emergency contact that she was hiking the length of Paria Canyon and had planned a Friday exit at Lee’s Ferry. An Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Air Rescue helicopter was requested to help locate the hiker. At 2:12 in the afternoon, the DPS Air Rescue helicopter spotted the hiker and landed nearby in the canyon. She had become stuck in quicksand for approximately 30 minutes and, once free, was swept downstream a short distance due to a flash flood the evening before. After escaping the floodwater, she was unable to hike to her camp due to high water and spent the night on some higher ground. On Wednesday morning, she was able to hike back to her camp, but was exhausted, out of drinking water, and mildly hypothermic so activated her PLB to signal for rescue. DPS Air Rescue flew the hiker to Lee’s Ferry where she had staged a vehicle.

On July 19, at 8:00 in the morning, the Search and Rescue Unit provided assistance to Coconino County Public Works and the United Way so that volunteers could conduct damage assessments in areas impacted by the Timberline flood; SAR used Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) to access areas that were difficult to navigate with conventional vehicles.

At 4:15 in the afternoon that same day (July 19), Search and Rescue responded to a report of a hiker stranded by high floodwaters in the Pomeroy Tanks area along the Sycamore Rim Trail system. Deputies attempted to make access to the area to provide assistance, however, many of the area roads were impassable due to heavy rain and high water drainages. A Search and Rescue vehicle successfully accessed a location near the hiker which enabled a SAR Deputy and a CCSO Patrol Deputy to hike to the location and escort the hiker to safety. They arrived back at the rescue vehicle around 8:30 in the evening and escorted the hiker, an adult male from Scottsdale, back to his vehicle.

While the rescue near Pomeroy Tanks was wrapping up, Search and Rescue responded to a call about two stranded motorists near the Sawmill Hills, north of Lake Mary Road. The two motorists had been scouting the area for an upcoming hunt when their UTV became disabled by a mechanical malfunction. They called and informed a friend, not in the area, of a plan to walk to the Forest Road 82 and Forest Road 82B intersection and await help. The friend called the Sheriff’s Office for assistance. Heavy rain and thunderstorms in the area made access to the intersection difficult, however Search and Rescue found the two men at that intersection about 10:30 in the evening and provided a ride to their campsite off Lake Mary Road. The two men from Las Vegas, Nevada did not require any medical attention.

Again, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind residents and visitors to be mindful of monsoon weather forecasts and to be prepared for rapidly changing conditions. Prepare and be aware.

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