Sedona AZ (April 2, 2012) - At approximately 2:45 AM on April 1, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers were notified that four persons were stranded in an area near Thousand Trails Road outside of Cottonwood, Arizona. The group included the reporting party’s (R/P) two children, ages 5 and 7.
The reporting party, who was not part of the group, had been in contact with one of the stranded adults the prior night and learned their vehicle had broken down during an off-road outing. The driver explained that he intended to walk out and meet with the reporting party to arrange help. By 2:45 AM, the reporting party was unable to find the driver and called YCSO.
Deputies arrived and located the missing driver just after daybreak. He had already been walking for several hours and was unable to clearly recall a path back to the stranded group. Overnight, his cell phone battery had depleted. Deputies called out Sheriff Rescue 1 from the Guidance Helicopter Facility in Prescott, Arizona. Pilot Ben Lewis picked up a patrol supervisor to work as the observer.
Within ten minutes of air time over the target area, Rescue 1 helicopter located the stranded vehicle just after 8:30 AM. After a low flyover, the vehicle was found unoccupied.
As deputies were coordinating a call-out to ground searchers, Rescue 1 continued its aerial search and located the stranded party walking near the Black Canyon Wash. By 9:15 AM, deputies on the ground were able to locate the group under direction of Rescue 1. The group was escorted to safety. The 7-old-year child was carried out by a YCSO deputy due to the child’s pre-existing condition which made walking difficult.
One of the adults, 46-year-old Robert Madison, was arrested and booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center, Camp Verde, Arizona on a probation violation warrant.