All in a day’s work: 3 separate rescues round out search crews’ day and night

Emergency personnel prepare a woman injured in a crash for transport by Intermountain Life Flight, Washington County, April 14, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Darrell Cashin, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Washington County Search and Rescue teams had an exceptionally busy day Friday with three separate rescue efforts in less than 24 hours. Incidents spanned the county and involved a teen with a severely mangled ankle, a utility task vehicle crash and a cliff-climbing recovery.

Rescue No. 1

At around noon, the team was dispatched to a trailhead leading to a geological formation known as “Mollies Nipple” in Hurricane on report of an injured 16-year-old girl.

Mollies Nipple, prominent of above the south end of Hurricane, Utah
In this file photo, Mollies Nipple rises over 1,100 feet above the south horizon of Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 22, 2016 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

“She had fallen, and she thought she had a broken ankle,” Washington County Search and Rescue sheriff’s liaison Darrell Cashin said.

Upon arrival, the rescue team found the girl about 100 yards from the trailhead.

“When we got there, it was an obvious deformity,” Cashin said of the girl’s ankle, “so we knew it was either dislocated or broken.”

She had reportedly been climbing on loose rock when she fell.

“She slipped and she fell approximately 10 feet,” Cashin said, “and most of her weight came down on that one ankle.”

They tended to her medically then carried her to the trailhead where her father requested she be transported to the hospital by an ambulance from Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue.

Cashin said he believes the girl’s ankle may have also fractured, likely requiring surgery.


Read more: Search and Rescue: Who pays for it?


Rescue No. 2

Later in the afternoon at about 4:30 p.m., the rescue team was dispatched to a remote area of the west desert near the intersection of Manganese Road and Motoqua Road on report of two women injured in a UTV crash.

A utility task vehicle shows signs of damage after crashing, Washington County, Utah, April 14, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Darrell Cashin, St. George News

One of the women had been thrown from the vehicle and the other was pinned inside of it.

“The dashboard had been hit hard enough that it came back and it pinned her legs against the seat,” Cashin said, “and they couldn’t get her out.”

The woman thrown from the UTV escaped serious injury and declined transport.

However, the potential for injury for the pinned woman was serious enough that Intermountain Life Flight was dispatched to the area.

With the woman still stuck in the vehicle, a responding officer from the Bureau of Land Management came up with a solution.

Emergency personnel extract a woman pinned in a utility task vehicle by utilizing a system of winches, Washington County, Utah, April 14, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Darrell Cashin, St. George News

Responders tied two winches onto the vehicle, one on the back and the other on the front steering column, allowing them to slowly pull the dash away from the woman’s legs and slip her out.

“We were concerned about possible leg fractures and what we would call compression fractures,” Cashin said. “Compression injuries from that much pressure being on her legs for that amount of time can damage the soft tissue and damage bone.”

She was conscious and talking to responders and agreed to be transported by the waiting helicopter to the hospital.

Deputies from Washington County Sheriff’s Office and a unit from Ivins EMS also responded to the incident.

Rescue No. 3

“While we were just finishing up with that one,” Cashin said, referring to the UTV crash, “one of the deputies walked up to me and said, ‘hey, dispatch is trying to get a hold of you, we have another search and rescue in Snow Canyon.’”

A search and rescue crew member works to extract a fallen hiker in Snow Canyon State Park, Washington County, Utah, April 14, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue team, St. George News

At about 6 p.m., rescuers were dispatched to Snow Canyon State Park on report of a hiker who had fallen and was out of the view of his friends.

“Two females and one male in their early 20s had decided to go hiking,” Cashin said. “The male took off and went on different trail. The females went on their hike. They couldn’t locate their friend.”

As the women went looking for their lost friend, they were eventually able to make vocal contact with him but could not actually see where he was.

The team made their way up the West Canyon area and located the two women.

“They were searching the area,” Cashin said of his team, “and all of the sudden one of them noticed this yelling was coming from way up in the very back up on a cliff.”

The man told rescuers that he had fallen twice and was stuck in a precarious spot near a sheer cliff. He did not suffer any serious injuries in the fall.

“He was 75 feet down from the top and over thousand feet from the bottom,” Cashin said. “Looking up there was a thousand feet of rock face and then you could see a little black dot that was him sitting on about a 2-3-foot ledge.”

Search and rescue crew members work meticulously to extract a fallen hiker in Snow Canyon State Park, Washington County, Utah, April 14, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Search and Rescue Team, St. George News

Recognizing that the extraction would be a difficult and technical task, the team paged for additional assistance from the high angle ropes team.

By now, rescue personnel were working in the pitch black of night, Cashin said, so they took extra care to set up a safely secured double raise system.

Two ropes were lowered to the man’s location where he was secured to a harness and pulled to safety.

EMS performed a medical examination, and the rescue team provided the man with water, food and a jacket and walked him to the trailhead. By then it was 2 a.m. Saturday.

The county search and rescue crews have put in serious time over the past six weeks, Cashin said, with 24 rescues, 12 already in April.

“I think this is the new normal,” Cashin said of the influx of rescues, noting that Washington County has grown substantially as an outdoor destination in recent years.

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Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • mmsandie April 16, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Once again 4 rescues in one day when will it end pretty soon people will die when so many are in da.y. Get smart people know your trails and limitations

  • Proud Rebel April 16, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Put an iron curtain across the back country?
    It is pretty difficult to save people from their lack of knowledge and experience. And how do you get experience but by doing whatever task and making mistakes and learning from them. Hopefully… Of course, using common sense helps as well.

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