Over the past few days, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit has responded to multiple events in which people have been caught unprepared by weather events in Northern Arizona. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit would like to remind those who recreate in the outdoors to pay attention to weather forecasts and be prepared for changing conditions during their trip. Severe weather may impact the ability of public safety personnel to respond to some locations requiring the outdoor user to care for themselves with their own survival equipment until help can arrive.
On July 18 at approximately 10:20 am the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit, Guardian Medical Transport, and Summit Fire District responded to a report of an injury on the Humphrey’s Peak Trail. The report was that a tree fell on a trail worker. During the response, severe weather, including heavy rain, hail, and lightning were occurring in the area causing difficulty for responders. Personnel from the Arizona Snowbowl assisted emergency responders in locating and transporting the patient to the Snowbowl parking lot and to a waiting ambulance.
As the rescue on Humphrey’s Trail was wrapping up, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue was notified of a hiking party including two adults, two children, and a dog who were stranded by severe weather in the Viet Springs area. Rescuers hiked to the party’s location and assisted them in getting back to the trail head and to their vehicle. None of the hiking party needed any medical care.
At approximately 12:00 pm that same day, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit was notified of a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) emergency activation in Paria Canyon, upstream from Wrather Arch. The area had been 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 planned to exit at Lee’s Ferry on Friday. An Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Air Rescue helicopter was requested to attempt to locate the hiker. At 2:12 pm, the DPS Air Rescue helicopter located the hiker and landed nearby in the canyon. The hiker indicated that 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 flood water, she was unable to hike to her camp due to the 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. At that point she 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 am the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office 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 flood in Timberline. Search and Rescue used Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) to access areas that were difficult to navigate with conventional vehicles.
At approximately 4:15 pm on July 19, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Coconino Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit responded to a report of a hiker stranded by high flood waters in the area of Pomeroy Tanks along the Sycamore Rim Trail system. Deputies attempted to make access to the area to provide assistance. However, many of the roads in the area were impassable due to heavy rain and high water in drainages. A Search and Rescue vehicle successfully accessed a location near the hiker. From that location, a Search and Rescue Deputy and a Patrol Deputy were able to hike into the location and escort the stranded hiker out safely. They arrived back at the rescue vehicle at approximately 8:30 pm. The hiker, an adult male from Scottsdale, was given a ride back to his vehicle.
While the rescue near Pomeroy Tanks was wrapping up, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Coconino Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to two stranded motorists near the Sawmill Hills north of Lake Mary Road. The two motorists were scouting the area for an upcoming hunt and their UTV had a mechanical malfunction. They called a friend who was not in the area and informed that person that they were going to walk to the intersection of Forest Road 82 and Forest Road 82B to wait for help. The friend called the Sheriff’s Office to request assistance. Heavy rain and thunderstorms in the area made access to the intersection difficult. Search and Rescue personnel located the two men at the intersection at approximately 10:30 pm and provided them a ride to their camp site located off of Lake Mary Road. The two men from Las Vegas, NV did not require any medical attention.