Lost hiker spends night out in freezing temperatures

Nancy Rocca (left, rear) 60, is reunited with her parents after a long night of cold temperatures on Cedar Mountain. Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 16, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff's Office, St. George / Cedar City News
Nancy Rocca (Left) 60, is reunited with her parents after a long night of cold temperatures on Cedar Mountain. Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 16, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff's Office, St. George / Cedar City News
Nancy Rocca (left, rear) 60, is reunited with her parents after a long night of cold temperatures on Cedar Mountain. Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 16, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – A 60-year-old lost hiker refused medical care Friday morning after spending the night on Cedar Mountain in freezing temperatures, authorities said.

Iron County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue crews found Canadian resident Nancy Rocca about 8:15 a.m. in Cedar Breaks Park following a 12-hour search through the night.

“The park ranges 8,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation so it gets cold up there and last night was cold down here off the mountain, so temperatures up there were below 20 degrees,” Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said.

Rocca’s 90-year-old father had dropped her off at the High Mountain Trail near Brian Head about 11:30 a.m. Thursday for a hike with plans to meet up at 5 p.m. at the same spot. She never showed up, Gower said.

Rescue crews, who were called out around 8 p.m. Thursday, worked throughout the night on foot and horseback to find the lost hiker.

At about 7:30 a.m. Friday, a helicopter from Southern Utah University’s Aviation School was dispatched to the mountain to help with the search. Rocca saw the helicopter about a half a mile from where she was and used the flashlight on her cell phone to signal to the aircraft, Gower said.

Even though temperatures dropped below 20 degrees the night before, Rocca told authorities she didn’t need medical care after rescue crews picked her up and brought her back to the helicopter hangar, Gower said.

By the time Rocca realized she was lost she was relatively far from where she had started her hike. Knowing she was going to have to spend the night, she hunkered down in a dry riverbed and used her shirt to make a tent over her head to conserve body heat.

“She wasn’t dressed for cold weather so she knew she had to get creative if she was going to stay and that’s what she did,” Gower said. “She was an avid hiker and she was very resourceful so she ended up surviving the night despite the extreme drop in temperature.”

Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Melinda September 17, 2016 at 9:57 am

    The hero in the helicopter that found the woman was my best friends son. Ben Hill from Missouri. He’s going to college in Utah. So proud of him and glad the woman is safe. HIS MOM AND DAD AREE VERY PROUD OF HIM.

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