ST. GEORGE — A family of four was rescued in Hurricane Monday night after they became stranded on a hiking trip during heavy rains.
The rescue was initiated when a call came into emergency dispatch at 6:15 p.m. from a bystander who reported seeing lights in the area of a geological formation known as “Mollies Nipple,” said Sgt. Darrell Cashin, who oversees the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team.
With only a general location to work with, Hurricane City Police Officers were the first to be dispatched to the area and soon determined that the light was coming from the top of the mesa, at which point search and rescue crews were called in.
In the meantime, a woman called 911 reporting that she and her three young children, ages 9, 7 and 5, had hiked up Mollies Nipple but were unable to make their way down on their own. Cashin said their inability to maneuver the mountain was the result of heavy rains hitting the area and the fact that it was dark by then.
EMS crews from Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue were also put on standby in the event anyone was injured.
While on the phone with emergency dispatch, the woman’s phone died, but not before an approximate GPS location was captured by dispatch operators, who relayed the location to the rescue team. The GPS coordinates were of little help, though, Cashin said.
“That signal actually pegged off the top of a house,” he said, “which can happen at times. ”
Cashin said several members of the ground and EMS teams made the hike to the top of the mesa, while the remaining members drove several Jeeps around the back side of the bluff from state Route 9 and then made their way toward the top where the family was located.
The group was found in good health and uninjured, wearing warm clothing and otherwise “in good shape,” Cashin noted, before they were loaded into rescue vehicles and driven to the base of the bluff.
As it turned out, the woman was told that hiking in that particular area would be fun for the family, but the weather worsened once they reached the top, Cashin said, making it impossible for the children to make it back down on their own.
The mother was using the light in her cellphone to guide the children along the trails, which is likely the light seen by the bystander who initially called 911. While the cellphone was certainly an effective light source, Cashin explained it was likely the reason her cell phone died during the call with emergency dispatch.
“We always recommend having an alternate light source,” he said. “That leaves the cellphone with enough charge in case it’s needed to call out for help, and it also provides GPS coordinates so search teams can find you.”
With the family out of danger and on their way, the team wrapped up its 126th rescue of the year shortly after 9:30 p.m.
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