ST. GEORGE — After seven rescues in just over a week, Washington County Search and Rescue is close to breaking the record for the most number of rescues in a year.
There have been 103 rescues in Washington County so far in 2018. The most rescues performed by Washington County in a year was 104 in 2015, said Sgt. Darrell Cashin, Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue liaison.
“We’re going to easily break that,” Cashin told St. George News. “We’re already at 103, and we still have three months left. I’m pretty sure we’re going to get a few more rescues before the end of the year.”
Search and Rescue volunteers have been especially busy during the last week as the weather has started to become cooler. When the temperature drops, the number of calls for Search and Rescue rises because people start spending more time outdoors, Cashin said.
“It’s been a little busy lately,” Cashin said.
Most of the seven rescues in the last eight days were for overdue, lost or dehydrated hikers, including a group of hikers on Eagle Crags south of Rockville that took about nine hours longer than they expected to complete the hike on Sept. 23. Rescuers were able to locate them and help them return to their vehicles.
A man hiking in Snow Canyon State Park also needed rescuing when it became dark and he didn’t have a flashlight, so he became disoriented on Sept. 24, Cashin said. He was helped to safety when officials spotted light from his cell phone shining a couple hundred yards off the trail.
Rescuers also assisted a woman who ran out of water while hiking the Anasazi Trail in Ivins on Thursday. She was dehydrated and wasn’t able to walk more than a few steps at a time, so Search and Rescue volunteers were able to give her water and drive her on a truck back to her car at the trailhead.
Two more groups of hikers were rescued Monday by Washington County Search and Rescue. One man with a fear of heights became stuck on the side of a cliff on Red Mountain north of Ivins, so rescuers rappelled the 70 feet down the rock face to reach him, Cashin said.
The other group rescued Monday became lost while hiking on Canaan Mountain near Hildale, Cashin said. They had a satellite-connected device to contact emergency services, which is how Search and Rescuers were able to reach them. Rescuers took several hours finding this group because they kept moving around and trying to find their way down the mountain on their own, Cashin said.
If hikers are ever lost, Cashin said he recommends they stay in one place so rescuers can find them easier, unless they are in a dangerous location like a slot canyon in a rainstorm.
“We’ve had a lot of lost and dehydrated hikers all year long,” Cashin said. “Last year, I could tell you we had less than a handful. This year, most of our calls have been dehydration or they were lost.”
Cashin said he suspects an “unusually hot and dry summer” as the culprit behind many of the hikers they rescued getting lost or running out of water.
Search and Rescue volunteers helped a woman and her two children in a utility task vehicle who crashed into a rock on Sand Mountain near Sand Hollow State Park on Sept. 23. The woman, the two-year old and the four-year-old were brought to the trailhead, where they were handed off to Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue for assessment.
They had a lot of bumps and bruises, but Cashin said he doesn’t think any of their injuries were critical, Cashin said.
Rescuers also saved a mountain biker who crashed on Gooseberry Mesa near Hurricane on Sunday. He injured his knee, so he couldn’t ride or hike his way out, Cashin said. Search and Rescue volunteers and officials from Hildale emergency medical services carried the man out on their shoulders to the trailhead, where he was transported to the hospital on an ambulance.
Cashin said he hopes people will be prepared with lots of extra water and trail maps before embarking on an adventure.
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