Search and Rescue completes 50th mission of 2015; 2 hikers rescued

Life Flight assists in a search and rescue mission, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – On the heels of an all-night dive team mission at Quail Creek Reservoir Monday night, a tired Washington County Search and Rescue team was called out again Tuesday afternoon to complete its 50th rescue mission of 2015, this time in Snow Canyon State Park.

“A busy year continues,” Search and Rescue Commander Mike Thomas said.

Life Flight assists in a search and rescue mission, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue, St. George News
Life Flight assists in a search and rescue mission, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue, St. George News

At about 3:30 p.m., the SAR team was paged out to assist two hikers, a husband and wife, who had become lost on the Red Mountain Trail, about 4 or 5 miles from the main highway. The man and woman had been heading to the Red Mountain Overlook, just off state Route 18 near Dammeron Valley.

“They got a map from a friend of a friend that was a Xeroxed piece of paper that didn’t have much on it, and they didn’t know how to read it,” Thomas said.

“They got off trail and turned around and became lost,” he added.

The man and woman were up on a ridge line, had run out of water and were down to the last bar on their cellphone battery, Thomas said. Realizing their predicament, the two called for help.

They initially called a friend, who then called 911. Their friend was instructed to have the couple call 911 themselves, however, so the dispatcher could acquire GPS coordinates from their cellphone. The couple called, and GPS coordinates were obtained.

“I guess immediately after that their phone died,” Thomas said.

Search and Rescue volunteers come across desert wildlife during a rescue mission, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 19, 2015| Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue, St. George News
Search and Rescue volunteers come across desert wildlife during a rescue mission, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 19, 2015| Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue, St. George News

As the SAR team headed out to help the hikers, Life Flight also responded to assist them.

Thomas said Life Flight responders will donate hours to assist in SAR missions when they aren’t needed elsewhere.

“They were available,” Thomas said, “so Life Flight picked us up and took me and one other person in, and we were able to get just within a mile of the subjects.”

Thomas and the other SAR volunteer were able to hike to the man and woman’s location, bring them water, and guide them safely out to some waiting four-wheelers, which had been driven in by other SAR team members.

“(The hikers) were getting nervous. They were very happy to see Search and Rescue,” Thomas said.

The man and woman had no medical issues and were brought safely out without incident.

Thomas said they were smart to call for help as soon as they realized they were in trouble, rather than continuing to try and find their own way out and letting more time pass.

Life Flight assists in a search and rescue mission, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue, St. George News
Life Flight assists in a search and rescue mission, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, May 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue, St. George News

“They didn’t wait till dark to call,” he said. “They didn’t keep trying and get further and further into trouble.”

2015 has been a record year for the SAR team, which is made up of unpaid volunteers who use their own equipment to perform rescue missions under the direction of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

“Let me tell you, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to help people (this year),” Thomas said.

The SAR team has already surpassed its 2014 rescue numbers, and 2015 isn’t yet at its midpoint.

“We’re now just entering our busy season,” Thomas said.

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Email: cjim@stgnews.com

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

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2 Comments

  • backroadswest May 20, 2015 at 10:47 am

    That Red Mtn Trail is problematic. It needs proper trail markers, and a “proven” map that is available for download or in hardcopy form at the Trailhead. Once you get past the “jeep trail,” and out on the mesa, you’re pretty much on your own. Not Good!

    • fun bag May 20, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      and maybe also a mommy figure to hold your hand all the way up the trail and back…

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