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For Immediate Release
June 16, 2021
Contact: Deputy Paul Clifton
Flagstaff, AZ - On June 12, 2021 at approximately 1:45 PM, the Coconino County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call regarding a canyoneering accident at Horsetank Wash in the Fossil Creek Wilderness area.
Multiple agencies responded to assist in the rescue of the injured person. A 56-year-old male canyoneer from Phoenix, AZ had sustained injuries, including a compound arm fracture, when he fell approximately 60 feet as he began his rappel. Due to the location of the patient and the nature of his injuries, an Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue helicopter responded from Flagstaff with a Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Air Rescue Specialist onboard. A Gila County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Coordinator in the vicinity responded to assist with the rescue. Members of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue Team responded from Flagstaff to assist with a potential technical rope rescue in the event an air rescue was not feasible.
Due to the nature of the canyoneer’s injuries and difficult terrain, the Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue helicopter determined a short-haul operation was in the best interest of rescuers and the injured canyoneer. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Rescue Specialist rappelled from the helicopter to the injured canyoneer’s location and short-hauled the injured to a nearby landing zone near State Route 260. The injured patient was then transferred to a Pine-Strawberry Fire District ambulance and was transported to Banner Payson Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. This incident was another example of the close working relationships between Northern Arizona public safety agencies.
While the canyoneers in this incident were prepared to render aid to the injured subject overnight, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit would like to remind everyone that canyoneering can be inherently dangerous. Familiarize yourself with the area, be prepared to provide medical first aid to others due to prolonged emergency response times, obtain proper training, travel with experienced canyoneers, remain situationally aware of weather conditions, and use good judgement while enjoying this sport.
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