Intermountain Life Flight locates, guides rescuers to hiker lost on remote trail

An Intermountain Life Flight crew searches for a man who got lost hiking in the Pine Valley area, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy Washington County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man who became lost after hiking on a branching trail in the Pine Valley area was rescued Monday thanks in part to the air support search crews received from an Intermountain Life Flight helicopter crew.

A search and rescue crew member searches for a man who got lost hiking in the Pine Valley area, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

A concerned woman called emergency responders Sunday night to report her husband missing after he failed to return from a hike. The man left Saturday morning and reportedly only intended to hike for about a day.

Washington County Sheriff’s deputies located his vehicle at the Forsyth trailhead late Saturday night.

“Forsyth Trail is a pretty rugged area, and due to the timing and the darkness in the location, we weren’t able to pull anybody last night,” Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Brock Bentley said. “We devised a plan to get up early this morning and get up to that location.”

Bentley said people commonly get lost on Forsyth Trail, which forks into several other trails.

“It’s easy to get turned off on a couple different trails that attach to it up on the mountain,” he said. “Instead of making the loop, a lot of times people will turn off and they end up in an area called Rock Canyon, which is what he did.”

The trail eventually disappears and reaches a rugged area thick with brush.

An Intermountain Life Flight crew search from a helicopter for a man who got lost hiking in the Pine Valley area, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The Intermountain Life Flight helicopter located the man Monday morning after he had positioned himself in a clearing in the area.

Crews attempted to land the helicopter, but the area was too rugged and winds too strong.

Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue crews instead hiked to his location from the ground.

“He was cold and tired and hungry and thirsty,” Bentley said, “but other than that, he was in pretty good health.”

The lost hiker was able to build a fire and had enough supplies to get through two nights in close to freezing temperatures.

He told rescuers that he remembered to stay put after getting lost, which Bentley said is key to successful rescues.

An Intermountain Life Flight crew searches from a helicopter for a man who got lost hiking in the Pine Valley area, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 18, 2017 | Photo courtesy Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

“We would prefer people when they get lost and turned around not to continue going,” Bentley said, also suggesting that hikers go with a buddy or tell someone where they’re going.

“We would always advise not going on a hike alone,” he said, “or if you do, that you are prepared, and you let somebody know which direction you’re going so that if you don’t show back up, we know where to go.”

Also key to this particular rescue and many others like it was the help search crews received from Intermountain Life Flight.

“If Life Flight had not been there to help, we would probably still be looking for the hiker,” Bentley said. “Their help made it possible for this to have such positive outcome. The hiker also wanted to make sure to thank Life Flight and Search and Rescue. He was very happy to see them.”

A U.S. Forest Service equestrian team also assisted in the search effort.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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

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