Record-breaking rescue missions bring hikers safely out; STGnews Videocast

IVINS – The Washington County Search and Rescue team was called out to assist in retrieving a hiker who fell from an overlook in Snow Canyon Wednesday. The call marked the 46th time the county SAR has been dispatched this year. The 45th call out happened just the night before, and the SAR team has already surpassed its previous year’s record of 44 overall calls.

Members of Ivins Fire and Rescue and the Washington County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team deliver  an injured hiker to a waiting Life Flight helicopter for medical transport, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 6, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Bart Bailey, St. George News
Members of Ivins Fire and Rescue and the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team deliver an injured hiker to a waiting Life Flight helicopter for medical transport, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 6, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Bart Bailey, St. George News

Call 46: Fall from Hidden Pinyon Trail

About 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ivins Fire and Rescue was dispatched to Snow Canyon State Park to aid a hiker who had fallen from an overlook that branches out from the Hidden Pinyon Trail. The hiker, a man in his mid-40s, fell about 100 feet, SAR commander Mike Thomas said.

“He was bouncing and rolling off of different ledges” as he went down, Thomas said.

Ivins Fire and Rescue responders were able to locate the hiker a half-mile off the West Canyon Trail. Upon examination, it was determined the hiker had injured one of his wrists and had received several bruises and cuts from the fall. Other than that, he appeared to be fine, Thomas said. Responders weren’t taking any chances, however.

“When someone has a fall that far, you err on the side of caution,” Thomas said.

The SAR team was called in to assist in getting the hiker out of the area and to a waiting Life Flight helicopter that took him to Dixie Regional Medical Center for care.

Members of Ivins Fire and Rescue and the Washington County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team work bring an injured hiker to a waiting helicopter for medical transport, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 6, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Bart Bailey, St. George News
Members of Ivins Fire and Rescue and the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team work to bring an injured hiker to a waiting helicopter for medical transport, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 6, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Bart Bailey, St. George News

“It was about a half-mile trek that we carried him through some pretty rough terrain till we got to the trail, and from there it was pretty easy, but it still took six people,” Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher said.

The operation wrapped up at about 4 p.m.

“Everything went well and everyone worked together and I appreciate that we were able to get him and provide a service to the community,” Pulsipher said.

Call 45: Zion Traverse

“May 5th, we have now officially had more call outs this year … Than the total calls for all of last year,” Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue posted on its Facebook page Wednesday morning, before the Snow Canyon call came in.

Tuesday morning, four hikers embarked on a lengthy hike called the Zion Traverse, Thomas said.

The hikers started on the east side of Zion National Park, where they embarked on the East Rim Trail, connected to the West Rim Trail, then connected with another trail system that would take them to the Kolob Arch.

The group lost the trail 2 miles short of their destination, Thomas said, adding that while the group was equipped for the hike, they had no GPS with them.

The group started to go up a mountainside when a mix of rain and snow began to fall, soaking the hikers and their gear. They was able to contact Zion National Park for help, but as the park’s own search and rescue resources were not yet up and running, park officials contacted Washington County SAR for help.

Life Flight leaving Snow Canyon State Park to deliver an injured hiker to Dixie Regional Medical Center, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 6, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Cory Pulsipher, St. George News
Life Flight leaves Snow Canyon State Park to deliver an injured hiker to Dixie Regional Medical Center, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 6, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Cory Pulsipher, St. George News

The SAR team went out at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Thomas said, and went through “rain and snow and mud and muck” until they found the lost hikers.

Exposed to the elements as they were, with soaking gear on top of it, the hikers were at severe risk for exposure and hypothermia, Thomas said. Once the SAR team reached the hikers, they provided them with dry coats and led them off the mountain.

While drenched, Thomas said, the hikers came out of the ordeal with no medical issues.

The operation wrapped up at about 3 a.m., Wednesday.

With the frequency of calls the SAR team has received now surpassing last year’s total, Thomas joked that he expected to be called out again before the weekend hits.

Members of the county SAR team are volunteers. Thomas said it’s sometimes a challenge to juggle work and SAR responsibilities, yet he and the other volunteers love what they do.

“We’re all a little strange,” he said, “but when you see the look on someone’s face when we show up – that’s our payment.”

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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