HILDALE – A 17-year-old boy was seriously injured Sunday after falling while free-climbing with friends in a remote wilderness area near Hildale.
The boy was hiking with his brother, also 17, and an older friend when he fell in the Canaan Mountain Wilderness area.
Rescuers were dispatched just before noon Sunday to an area northwest of Maxwell Park, Hildale/Colorado City Fire Chief Kevin Barlow said.
“It was estimated that he fell at least 20 feet, hit an outcropping and then fell another 30 feet,” Barlow said.
The boy was seriously injured but fairly stable when rescuers arrived, Barlow said, with ankle, wrist and facial injuries in addition to scrapes and bruises.
“We’re very grateful for Arizona (Department of Public Safety) air rescue helicopter to come and do a short-haul for us,” Barlow said.
In a short-haul operation, a helicopter uses a cable to lift the patient a short distance to an area accessible by vehicle.
Rescuers were lifted by helicopter to the injured boy and prepared him for evacuation by helicopter. The boy was then lifted 2,000 feet down to the valley floor, Barlow said.
The boy fell in an area called the “W,” Barlow said. “As you’re going up on top of this plateau, it’s quite a hike up to it and the ‘W’ is where you make a final ascent up on top of the plateau.
“It would have been a tremendous, six- to eight-hour operation to get the patient down any other way,” Barlow said.
“From what I’ve seen, it was actually an unsafe place to be in the first place,” Barlow said.
“They were free-climbing.”
The boy was transported by ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center.
Washington County Search and Rescue responded with the east-side ground and the high-angle teams. The teams stood by in case the helicopter was unable to reach the boy, Search and Rescue Liaison Deputy Darrell Cashin said.
The Canaan Mountain Wilderness area is a rugged area and caution is advised.
Trails in this area are not maintained or marked, and should be considered backcountry travel, information from the Bureau of Land Management states.
Navigational aids are strongly recommended. Search and rescue operations are not uncommon for hikers lost in this wilderness as distances are deceiving and many people go unprepared for the rugged conditions. All creeks and washes in the area are subject to flash flooding. For more information, read Know Before You Go.
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