YAVAPAI COUNTY - A man who became lost and injured while on a horsepacking trip was found - twice - thanks to a satellite-messaging device that sent a distress signal when his cellphone did not work, alerting authorities to his location.
The man, a 47-year-old Glendale resident, was headed from the Table Mesa area north of Lake Pleasant to Horsethief Basin Nov. 20 when one of his two horses was injured, said Yavapai County Sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn. Because cell service was not good in the remote area, he activated his "Spot" emergency device, which sends GPS coordinates with a request for help by satellite.
Dispatchers contacted his wife and got some details about the man and his trip. The Spot continued to send GPS coordinates, and a search was set up. Deputies managed to get ahold of him briefly by cellphone about 9:30 a.m., but the signal was lost, said D'Evelyn, noting that the satellite-transmission technology works when cell signals do not.
A crew from Prescott's Guidance Helicopters volunteered to look for him, and using the GPS coordinates, found him at 11:45 a.m. The helicopter crew was able to direct ground search teams to the man. They found him in good condition, gave him water and food, and he told them he was prepared to walk out the next day.
On Nov. 21, at 7 a.m., YCSO dispatchers were notified that the man had fallen from one of the horses and injured his leg, said D'Evelyn. Once again, the man had used the Spot device to call for help and send GPS coordinates.
A DPS Ranger helicopter and ground search teams went out, and, by 10 a.m., the man was located and on board the Ranger helicopter headed for John C. Lincoln Hospital. His injuries were not life-threatening and family members arranged to locate the horses and get them home, D'Evelyn said.
D'Evelyn said the YCSO does not endorse the Spot product specifically, but said that hikers and others might want to research similar emergency satellite-communication devices.