INJURED HIKER: HACK CANYON, KANAB CREEK WILDERNESS AREA – ARIZONA STRIP

Published by The Bee News

April 3, 2023

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About 6:30pm Thursday (3/30) evening, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue received a phone call from Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs that a personal locator beacon (PLB) had been activated in Hack Canyon on the Arizona Strip in the Kanab Creek Wilderness Area. The device provided no additional information to what the emergency may be (or if it was an accidental activation). Based on the location of the PLB, there was no cellular service to attempt to reach the responsible party for the PLB, but emergency contact information was provided. One of the emergency contacts was in Nepal, but the other contact was able to provide itinerary, how many were traveling in his group and pertinent past medical history. It was learned that a 66-year-old male had left on his solo adventure from California on Friday, March 24th and intended to return home on April 10th. He had done many solo trips in his past and just recently added the PLB to his adventure equipment. In the meantime, it had been raining all day (which was not really in the weather forecast) and ground search and rescue teams were about 8 hours out (for anyone unfamiliar with the Arizona Strip – it is vast remote wilderness area of Arizona and can take many, many hours to get from one point to another – in good weather conditions). While ground teams were responding, several attempts were made to get air rescue resources to his location. A total of six helicopters (two Arizona DPS Rescue helicopters and four medical helicopters) all declined the rescue mission – due to weather (rain, ice, low-ceiling, snow, fog, etc). About 1:30am Friday (3/31) morning, search teams located the hiker’s truck at the trailhead. Search teams continued down Hack Canyon to the location indicated by the PLB and spotted a flashing light in the distance. About 4am, search teams made contact with the injured hiker. His knees were hurting and painful, but he was able to make his way back to the trailhead with the assistance of the rescuers. It was learned later, that he had began his hike into Hack Canyon Monday (3/27) morning. After a few days into his hike, his knees were giving out and the weather had turned bad into snow and rain. His equipment became completely soaked and was unable to return to the trailhead at Hack Canyon – thus leading to the activation of his PLB. When search teams reached him, he was showing signs of hypothermia. He did the right thing by activating his PLB for help and not waiting until the last minute – as time matters in rescues and some areas take much more time for rescuers to respond to based on the remoteness of the wilderness areas and current weather conditions. Make sure you frequently update your emergency contacts on your PLBs and make sure your contacts have your intended itineraries in the event you need help! Great job by everyone!!

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