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Thu, Feb. 27

Search teams find mother, son lost on Mingus Mountain

Search and rescue teams on Monday evening found a mother and son in good condition after they walked away from their campsite on Mingus Mountain earlier that afternoon and couldn't find their way back to the original trail.

At 1 p.m., Greg Cain called the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office to report his 41-year-old wife, Amber, and their 8-year-old son, Nathan, missing.

Greg told deputies that they had been camping on Mingus Mountain near Forest Road 413, that he last saw his wife and son about two hours earlier, and had searched the area for them before calling, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

A YCSO Forest Patrol Supervisor began coordinating search and rescue efforts involving the quad, search dog and back-country units from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office Response Team. The YCSO Jeep Posse, Verde Search and Rescue Team, DPS Ranger helicopter, and a helicopter crew provided by Guidance Helicopter in Prescott also searched for the pair.

Just after 5:15 p.m., the DPS Ranger crew found them during a flyover more than a mile from the camping area, D'Evelyn said.

Due to the terrain, the helicopter was unable to land, so the Ranger crew provided GPS coordinates to base camp staff and a team from Verde SAR was able to find the pair and bring them back to base camp around 6:30 p.m.

Search and rescue personnel learned that the mother and son originally left the campsite without letting anyone know where they were going, did not carry a cellphone, food, or water, and were only wearing light clothing, D'Evelyn said. After losing their way trying to find the original trail, Amber made a smart decision to find an open space and stay put, according to rescuers.

They made a small sign out of sticks reading "help" and "911," but it could not be seen from the air.

Because a child was missing, the search was intensified with nearly 40 personnel involved in the coordinated effort, D'Evelyn said.

It was critical to find them before nightfall because the temperature at 7,400 feet drops dramatically after sunset, D'Evelyn added.

YCSO encourages people to carry a cellphone, because most provide GPS coordinates which can be transmitted to search teams. Rescuers also remind hikers who become lost outdoors to stay in one place and let rescue teams come to you; avoid off-trail exploring if you are not familiar with the hiking area; and always carry water.

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