Crews rescue group stranded on cliffside near Hildale

ST. GEORGE — The Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue was called to Maxwell Canyon near Hildale after a group of young men found themselves stranded on the cliffside.

Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darell Cashin told St. George News first responders received a call at around 7:20 p.m. Initial reports said five males between the ages of 14-23 had hiked too high up and were unable to get down.

Upon further investigation, Cashin said there had originally been six people trapped in the canyon, but one of them found a way down and told his parents what was happening. The boy’s parents called one of the boys on the hill and told him to call the first responders so officials could get the group’s GPS coordinates.

“They were in a very difficult location,” he said. “They were 3/4 of the way up the cliffside at the back of Maxwell Canyon. They were way up there.”

Cashin sent four responders with experience in high-angle rescues to climb up the canyon side in the dark with another team hiking around to the Elephant Arch area in Kane County, coming across the canyon from the backside.

First responders worked through the night with 2-3 foot ledges and 100-foot drops to reach the hikers. The wind was blowing down-canyon as crews attempted to complete “a technical climb in unfamiliar rocks,” Cashin said.

As search and rescue teams were working their way toward the group, one of the original hikers who had found his way down followed first responders to show them exactly where the others were. The boy’s brother also went along.

With the two boys who followed rescuers, search and rescue teams brought a total of seven young men up and out of the canyon.

“For them to do that, they’re risking their lives and jeopardizing the rescuers,” he said of the boy and his brother. “They caught up to our rescuers, and at that point, they’re already halfway up.”

When crews reached the boys, they made the decision to take them up and around the canyon, meeting up with the other team, which had made it 800 feet east of the groups’s coordinates where they were stranded in a large chasm.

After the team assisted high-angle rescuers as they helped the hikers out of the chasm, both teams and the group hiked over 1 mile across the top of Canyon Mountain into Water Canyon where they hiked down and were picked up at the bottom.

The boys returned home at around 7 a.m. After spending 12 hours in the canyon, Cashin said there were no injuries reported. He left the scene at around 9:20 a.m., and other volunteers left Hildale at around 8 a.m.

“It just takes time,” he said. “There’s rough country. You’ve got to be careful climbing that thing in the dark so nobody slips and falls.”

First responders from Hildale and the Bureau of Land Management also assisted in the rescue.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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