Hiker saved by whistle after falling 100 feet, spending night on ledge

CANE BEDS, Ariz. – A woman who went out for a short hike Friday fell at least 100 feet, spent the night on a ledge and was plucked from a cliff Saturday night by rescuers using a helicopter.

The Cottonwood Point Wilderness Area, outlined in yellow, lies just outside Cane Beds, Arizona | Image courtesy of Google Maps
The Cottonwood Point Wilderness Area, outlined in yellow, lies just outside Cane Beds, Arizona | Image courtesy of Google Maps

A 25-year-old woman traveling from the midwest had been staying at a bed and breakfast in Cane Beds, Hildale-Colorado City Fire Chief Kevin Barlow said, and apparently went out for a short hike Friday afternoon.

When she didn’t return by Saturday, the owners of the bed and breakfast and some of their neighbors started searching, Barlow said, but after a couple of hours called authorities.

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office was called to investigate and it appeared the woman intended a short hike because all of her personal belongings were still at the bed and breakfast.

Search crews were called out between 3 and 4 p.m. Saturday and initiated a search of the foothills and mountains above Cane Beds. An Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter was also called in.

“It was really nothing short of miraculous that this lady was found,” Barlow said. “She was ledged out 200 feet down a cliff in a slot (canyon).”

The woman had fallen sometime Friday and been knocked unconscious, and it was dark when she regained consciousness.

“We estimate she fell 50 feet, free fall, and another 50 feet of tumble and slide,” Barlow said. “She was real beat up.”

“She couldn’t go up or down, she had injured her back and had multiple bruises and scrapes,” Barlow said.

The woman was located around 6 or 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Arizona Standard Time, Barlow said, above the Rose Cliff Lane area of Cane Beds.

She was found when a search team pulled into the base of one of the canyons and heard her blowing a wilderness emergency whistle.

Once the search crews heard the whistle, the helicopter crew was able to locate the woman from the air. She was found in an area near Lyons Point, Barlow said, which is within the extremely rugged Cottonwood Point Wilderness area.

“She was about 200-feet down a drainage slot,” Barlow said, trying to get down a different way than she had gone up. Cliffs in the area can be deceptive.

“I can see how it would have looked like she could have gotten down there.”

A Bell 407 helicopter similar to the one pictured was used in a rescue near Cane Beds, Arizona | Creative Commons image courtesy of stuart.mic, Wikipedia, St. George News
A Bell 407 helicopter similar to the one pictured was used in a rescue near Cane Beds, Arizona | Creative Commons image courtesy of stuart.mic, Wikipedia, St. George News

The helicopter, a Bell 407, lifted six members of the technical rescue team to a cliff top above the woman, but there was no place for the helicopter to set down or land.

The team had to climb out of the hovering helicopter onto a knob of rock and then make the climb down to the fallen hiker.

“They rappelled down 100 feet or more,” Barlow said.

The woman was out of water, but once she was rehydrated she was able to help rescuers, who placed her in a harness and raised her up the cliff.

Once at the top of the cliff, rescuers again had to do a “hover load” with the helicopter at full power, hovering, but unable to touch down at all.

The woman and all the rescuers didn’t get off the mountain until 1-2 a.m. Sunday, Barlow said.

“It’s very miraculous. It was a very, very good team effort between Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, Mohave County Search and Rescue, Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue and Colorado City.”

There’s a good lesson to be learned, Barlow said.

“Always take a hiking partner and know the terrain. Go prepared – even if it’s a short hike – go prepared for an overnight stay.”

About 30 people were involved in the search and rescue, Barlow said.

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

2 Comments

  • old school May 22, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Awesome rescue and brilliant response by all parties involved, including the B&B who alerted authorities in the first place. Nice to know your on our side!

  • fun bag May 22, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    they should’ve filmed it

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.