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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : regional May 26, 2016

9/5/2013 3:09:00 PM
Rescue 1 air support critical in Fossil Creek search for missing man
Courtesy Yavapai SO
The rescued man safely returns to the search staging area on his ATV.
Courtesy Yavapai SO
The rescued man safely returns to the search staging area on his ATV.

STRAWBERRY-- Just before 8 a.m. Tuesday, Yavapai County Sheriff's deputies were notified of a 56-year-old Phoenix man missing in the Fossil Creek area. Deputies learned the man began hiking the area Sunday hoping to find his two hunting dogs, which were lost the week before. Both dogs were wearing GPS tracking collars. On Tuesday morning, a friend of the missing man got a text message on his phone indicating he was in distress.

The YCSO Forest Patrol rescue crew was assembled to locate the missing man by his cell phone GPS information. Friends provided the man's description and vehicle information. After reviewing newly discovered text messages sent the day before, the search focus was changed to the Strawberry area in Gila County. Deputies put together a ground search as YCSO's helicopter, Rescue 1, was launched. Just after 9:30 that morning, the Rescue 1 crew located the missing man's truck and directed a Gila County search team to that location. The truck was unoccupied and had an empty ATV trailer attached.

A short time later, the Rescue 1 crew found the man's abandoned ATV at a distance from the truck and began a grid search from that location. About 10:45 a.m., Rescue 1 saw the missing man as he waved from an open field to get their attention. Because of the urgent need to check the man's condition, Rescue 1 landed nearby and the observer/EMT made contact. The man was tired and dehydrated, but did not require immediate medical aid and was flown back to his ATV.

The man told deputies that he had fallen from a ledge on Monday night and tried to get help via cell phone, but was unable to call out. He waited until daybreak to attempt a return to his ATV and also sent a distress text message from his cell phone to friends as calls did not go through. He was very grateful for the efforts of all involved in the search. He planned to return on another day with help to locate the dogs.

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