News Flash

Sheriff's Office

Posted on: May 27, 2022

Coconino County Sheriff's Office Responds to Calls in Oak Creek Canyon

Memorial Day 2022

 For Immediate Release 

Contact Jon Paxton 

Phone 928-226-5089 

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit has responded to several search and rescue incidents in the past week. Two of the missions involved hikers who were suffering from heat related illness. The Search and Rescue Unit would like to remind hikers to research their trip and be prepared for the conditions that they will be recreating in. During hot weather it is recommended that hikers avoid hiking between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm which are the hottest hours of the day. Hikers should be prepared with an adequate amount of water and food for the trip and not rely upon creeks, springs, or other water sources unless they are sure that water is available at those locations.

 On May 22, 2022 at approximately 4:30pm the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and the Sedona Fire District responded to a report of two hikers who reported that they were lost and were suffering from dehydration on the Huckaby Trail. A team of search and rescue personnel and Sedona Fire personnel hiked in from Midgley Bridge to locate and assist the hikers. One of the hikers received intravenous rehydration and then they were assisted in walking out to a trail head where they refused additional medical care and were returned to their vehicle.

 On May 26, 2022 at approximately 1:30pm the Search and Rescue Unit responded to two calls in the Sedona area. The first was a report of a lost and dehydrated hiker on the Sterling Pass Trail. Due to uncertainty about the hiker’s location an Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue helicopter responded to search the trail looking for anyone in distress. The DPS Air Rescue helicopter observed a solo hiker waving to get the attention of the helicopter crew. The hiker appeared to match the description of the hiker who called in for help. The location of the distressed hiker was relayed to search and rescue personnel who hiked in to assist that hiker. The hiker was provided with water and assisted out to the Sterling Pass Trailhead on State Route 89A arriving there at approximately 9:00pm. The hiker refused additional medical care and was transported to the Jordan Trailhead where their vehicle was parked.

 The second mission on May 26 involved two hikers in West Fork of Oak Creek who had planned to hike from Woody Mountain Road to State Route 89A in the canyon. On the second day of their trip they had become wet and cold and decided to try to exit the canyon by scrambling up the south side of the canyon just down canyon from Casner Cabin Draw. The pair became stranded on a ledge and could not continue up or down and contacted a relative using a satellite text messaging device. A search and rescue response was mounted and assistance was received from the DPS Air Rescue. Once the location of the hikers was confirmed by the helicopter a search and rescue team began hiking in from Woody Mountain Road to be prepared for a ground based rescue. The DPS Air Rescue helicopter from Phoenix responded and was able to rescue the pair by lowering a Trooper/Medic down to them and then hoisting them back in to the aircraft. The West Fork of Oak Creek route from Woody Mountain Road to State Route 89A is rugged and remote with limited communication options. There are several pools that must be traversed by swimming or wading. Hikers need to be prepared with adequate equipment and clothing appropriate for the conditions. There are very few mid-canyon exit options in West Fork of Oak Creek.

The Search and Rescue Unit would like to thank the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Sedona Fire District for their assistance on these calls. Close coordination and joint training between the agencies make these operations safe and efficient.

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