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On May 28th at approximately 8:20 PM the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of four overdue hikers with a dog on the West Fork Trail off Oak Creek Canyon. The overdue group consisted of one adult male and three adult females.The Hikers were dropped off along Forest Service Rd 231 at the bridge over West Fork trail above of Oak Creek Canyon. The overdue Hikers intended to hike the West Fork trail from the top drop off point of Forest Service Rd 231 to the trail head below at Call of the Canyon on State Route 89A, with one overnight stay on the West Fork Trail in West Fork canyon. When the group did not arrive at Call of the Canyon as expected a family member reported them overdue. A search was initiated by members of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit and the Arizona Department of Public Safety Northern Air Rescue Unit helicopter.During a search flight, two fires were observed in the canyon, but no one appeared to be signaling for help. Search and Rescue personnel hiked into the canyon from both the Forest Service Rd 231 on top of the canyon and the Call of the Canyon parking lot on the bottom of the canyon to search for the group overnight. Additional personnel were deployed from the same locations on the morning of May 29th. At approximately 3:00PM on May 29th searchers located the group in the canyon. The group was tired but in otherwise good condition. Search and Rescue personnel assisted them in hiking out to the Call of the Canyon trail head where they met family members.On May 30th at approximately 6:00PM the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office responded to a hiker in distress on the Nankoweap trail near Saddle Mountain. The adult male hiker had called 911 to report that he was disoriented and having some heat related illness.In addition to the Sheriff’s Office response, fire personnel from the US Forest Service and a helicopter from the National Park Service at Grand Canyon responded to assist. At approximately 11:00 PM two Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue volunteers were inserted at the Saddle Mountain Trailhead by the Arizona Department of Public Safety Northern Air Rescue helicopter while additional Search and Rescue personnel drove to the area from Flagstaff. A Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sheriff also arrived to aid in investigation and resource coordination. The Search and Rescue volunteers hiked to the area indicated by the 911 phone call and located the hiker at approximately 12:45AM on May 31. The hiker was assessed and provided with some food, water, and warm clothing and then assisted in hiking out to the trailhead to his vehicle.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit would like to remind outdoor users to research the trips that they are intending to take to ensure that they understand the conditions that could be encountered. Additionally, outdoor users need to be properly equipped for the trip and have the knowledge to use their equipment safely. Important outdoor equipment includes extra food, extra water, extra clothing for the conditions, navigation equipment (map, compass, GPS), a headlamp or flashlight, a first aid kit, shelter material (large leaf bag or space blanket), pocket-knife or multi-tool, and signaling equipment (whistle and signal mirror). A fully charged cell phone and back-up battery are also good items to carry but users should be aware that cell service may not be available in all backcountry locations. Outdoor users should always tell someone where they plan to go and when they are expected to return so that if they become overdue authorities will know where to begin the search.
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