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Oak Creek Canyon; Coconino County Sheriff’s Deputies and Rescue Volunteers located and assisted three individuals with hiking out of the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon after they were reported as an overdue hiking party. The group of overdue hikers consisted of a seventy-three year old male of Flagstaff and a thirty-one year old male and a thirty-one year old female both of Michigan.
On Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at about 8:00 pm the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a report from a relative of one of the members of the party that she was at the trailhead of West Fork to pick up the three hikers; however they did not arrive at that location at 2:00 pm as preplanned. According to the caller, she dropped them off at a location off of Woody Mountain Road on Sunday at about 5:00 pm where they set up camp and spent the night. Early Monday the hikers embarked on their fourteen mile with the intention of being halfway through the canyon by Monday evening and camping overnight at that location.
Deputies learned that the three individuals were experienced hikers and were prepared with appropriate clothing, food, water and camping equipment. However due to this season’s monsoon rain activity, there was a lot more water in the canyon than was anticipated by members of the group. This slowed their travel time significantly.
A Search and Rescue Coordinator requested assistance from the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the DPS Air Rescue Helicopter was dispatched from Kingman. As crew members flew the canyon, they spotted what they believed to be an emergency signal coming from a light source approximately seven miles into the canyon. A search coordinator and a volunteer who were both wearing dry suits hiked into the canyon to reach the victims which took approximately six hours. They reached the hikers and found them to be hungry, thirsty and wet but otherwise in good condition. The DPS helicopter dropped in food, water and three dry suits to the group. Escorted by the two rescuers, the hikers were taken to the trailhead of South Highway 89 A where the reporting party was waiting for them.
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Media and Public Contact: Gerry Blair, Coconino County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer, 928-226-5089