2 Washington City teens rescued after all night search

File photo: The Department of Public Safety Aerospace Bureau loaned their helicopter and their pilot to the officers this week for K-9 training at Kolob, Utah, July 12, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City Newson Kolob Mountain, Utah, July 12, 2016 | Photo by Tracie Sullivan, St. George/Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — Two Washington City teens reported missing Thursday after they failed to return home from an afternoon hunting trip were found after a 9-hour multiagency search, Washington City Public Information Officer Ed Kantor said Friday.

The two juveniles, ages 13 and 16, were found after a pilot with the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau spotted their vehicle near the Enterprise Reservoir, Kantor said.

Once the department’s helicopter landed the boys were located nearby and “safely reunited with their families,” he said.

The ordeal began on Thursday when the teens left their home in Washington City just after 4 p.m. and headed out on a rabbit hunting trip to the Enterprise Reservoir area. It was a trip both had taken numerous times before, Kantor said.

When they failed to return after dark their parents became worried, but decided to give them more time before calling authorities. Then, at 11:20 p.m., the parents reported the juveniles missing and Washington City Police began search efforts to locate them.

Local officers were soon joined by rescue teams from Washington County Search and Rescue and the search to locate the teens continued throughout the night. Knowing that additional resources would be needed officials then contacted the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau to request aerial support, Kantor said.

Just before sunrise Friday a helicopter and rescue team was sent to the area to assist in the search for the missing boys.

Shortly before 9 a.m. the aerial search team spotted the juvenile’s vehicle located near the Enterprise Reservoir, and after landing found the teens nearby. Both were checked for injuries or any symptoms of exposure and none were found, Kantor said.

The boys were very smart to stay with the vehicle after it became disabled, and remained inside of the car where they were protected from the elements,” Kantor said, “which certainly contributed to such a favorable outcome this morning.”

The officer also said that with such a large search area to cover it would have been much more difficult to locate the teens, which would have placed them at greater risk. So the aerial capabilities reduced that time tremendously, he said.

Washington City Police Chief Jim Keith commented on the rescue efforts as well.

“On behalf of the two families of the boys found this morning, we would like to thank all who were involved in the search efforts that ended in finding these boys safe and reuniting them with their families,” Keith said.

“Aerial support is available to cities and counties all across the state through the Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau, and we were glad to help locate these lost teens,” said Sgt. Todd Royce with the Utah Department of Public of Public Safety.

Royce also said any assistance they provide is there to enhance the search efforts of local officials by providing equipment or technology that may not be available otherwise. There is no substitute for the dedication displayed by search teams and officers at the local level, he added.

Kantor stressed the importance of leaving a trip itinerary or intended location with a family member or friend before setting out which increases the chances of the person being located by reducing search time.

Many parts of Southern Utah have experienced an increase in rain, the officer said, so even areas that are familiar to hikers or hunters may actually have hidden dangers due to erosion, wet and unstable soil. High elevation can pose other weather-related risks.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. 

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Twitter: @STGnews

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


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  • ladybugavenger February 25, 2017 at 5:46 am

    Southern Utah has the best Search and Rescue team! They love what they do, and it shows! We all appreciate SARS.

  • .... February 25, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Yeps theys is gooden at what’s they be a doin ! …….LOL ok cry baby Real Life it a be a yore turn now ! ha ha ha ha ha

    • Real Life February 25, 2017 at 9:05 am

      All night search? This is right up your alley! You are up all night, don’t have anything better to do, and you say you are a “volunteer”. Perfect!

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