YCSO Deputy Attempts Air Rescue of Hikers, Helicopter Crashes, But Still Hikes Them Out Safely

On the evening of Friday, August 27th, at 5pm, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office received a call that two hikers were in distress on Pine Mountain. YCSO Rescue 1 Helicopter, along with ground Search and Rescue (SR) teams were dispatched to locate the hikers who had been out on the trails most of the day.

Rescue 1 located the hikers near their last known coordinates near the trailhead and looked for a place for approximately a half hour to set the helicopter down when he found a rocky but stable area.  He then trekked out to bring water to the dehydrated hikers, who decided they wanted to be air lifted off the mountain.

Though during lift-off there were no problems, the helicopter began to lose power when it was approximately 3 – 5 ft in the air, necessitating the need to put it back on the ground.  However due to the wind, the helicopter had been pushed 20 feet into a dangerous area with bigger boulders and trees. The helicopter rotor hit a tree and the power fully failed, yet the pilot was able to safely land with no injuries to those aboard.

DPS was called to assist in completing the rescue of the hikers, but after flying for a few hours was unable to conduct a hoist rescue because of the increased winds.  The YCSO pilot then made the decision to get the hikers off the mountain by hiking out the 8 miles with them to safety.

The hikers stated that they believed the pilot saved their lives and were grateful for all he did for them.

“This highlights for people the danger that the rescuers face themselves when they are rescuing others” said Sheriff David Rhodes. “Our dedicated SR teams put their safety in second place when they are out there trying to rescue those in need.  I am very glad everyone in this circumstance ended up home safely”

YCSO wants to remind people to bring water and other provisions when hiking and to be safe on our trails.

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