Yavapai County sheriff's deputies, search units and the Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter found two hikers Sunday who became stranded in the Wet Beaver Wilderness after one became so ill he could no longer walk.
At 11:15 a.m., Richard Ingram, 21, who is stationed at Luke Air Force Base, called the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Communications Center to tell dispatchers that his hiking companion, Daniel Haines, 24, also from Luke Air Force Base, had fallen ill after a couple days of hiking.
Ingram told dispatchers that he and Haines began their hike Friday night, with a gallon of water each, along the Apache Maid Trail and camped in the area until Saturday morning, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
Ingram told dispatchers that on Saturday they hiked to Hog Hill, but they both ran out of water so they used water filters to purify water out of nearby cow tanks and camped in the area overnight.
"They planned on using their filtering device to purify water, but the filter was clogged or became disabled," D'Evelyn said.
D'Evelyn said water from cow tanks is full of bacteria and not a water source most people would consider using.
On Sunday morning, Haines woke up feeling ill and dizzy and began vomiting. Ingram did not want to leave Haines to get help so he called 911.
Haines spoke with a YCSO Forest Patrol supervisor who determined Haines was in immediate medical need and requested a Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter to help get him out.
Because of the thick forest canopy and steep cliff faces, the Yavapai County Sheriff Response Team, Back Country Unit, was placed on standby as well, in case a technical rescue was required.
YCSO provided the Ranger crew with GPS coordinates from Ingram's newer-model cell phone, thanks to a technology upgrade earlier this year that allowed dispatchers to see the DPS coordinates right away, D'Evelyn said.
"Having those GPS coordinates helped the DPS Ranger helicopter find them quick," D'Evelyn said. "The battery was well charged up and it was a lifeline for them."
The hikers were located on the south side of Hog Hill around 12:30 p.m. and the Ranger helicopter landed about 100 yards from them.
Both men were brought to the helicopter, and Haines was treated on board by a DPS paramedic and transported to the Verde Valley Medical Center.
Haines possibly suffered an infection from parasites in the stock tank water.
"Parasites came up because of the symptoms that Haines was experiencing," D'Evelyn said.
Haines has since been released from the hospital, but D'Evelyn said he has not yet heard what his blood test results were.
People on a three-day hike should carry much more than a gallon of water each, D'Evelyn said.
"Most hikers want to reduce the weight of what they're carrying," said D'Evelyn, who added that most people plan their hikes near water sources. "In this situation, it might be preferable to boil water, but I'm not sure if they could do that."