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Mon, Feb. 24

Hikers rescued Sunday night from Bell Rock

PRESCOTT - Yavapai County Sheriff's Office and the Verde Search and Rescue Team rescued two hikers from Los Angeles who were stuck Sunday, Feb. 8, near the top of a sandstone formation south of Sedona.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said a concerned citizen reported seeing flashing lights at approximately 7:30 p.m. Sunday on Bell Rock, in the village of Oak Creek.

Soon after, the couple, a 46-year-old and 39-year-old, called 911 and confirmed they were lost and did not want to attempt climbing down on their own. They told dispatchers they were stuck on an outcropping, with no food, little water and only light clothing. And the cellphone they were using was nearly out of power.

A deputy arriving on the scene spotted the hikers and coordinated a response form the Verde Search and Rescue team.

"These rescuers were not able to reach the pair directly and indicated the necessity for a technical rope rescue to safely bring them off a ledge," D'Evelyn said.

That meant bringing in members of the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team's backcountry unit.

Eight rescuers reached the hikers, bringing water and warm clothing. The volunteer rescuers spent the next several hours setting rope lines to rappel the lost hikers to safety.

D'Evelyn reported the couple started hiking around 9 a.m. They decided to stay to watch the sunset, but darkness fell faster than they anticipated. They got lost when they took a wrong trail in the dark, he said.

"Planning any hike is an important part of preparation, especially when it involves difficult trails and climbs like those on Bell Rock," D'Evelyn said. "Darkness should always be anticipated and hikes should conclude well before sunset to avoid this danger.

"The pair was smart to remain stationary once it was apparent they were lost. As with rescue cases in the past, the couple's cellphone became a lifeline to rescuers. Consider conserving cellphone battery life on such long hikes by placing the phone in 'airplane mode' when not in use. This prevents the phone from power loss normally used to maintain contact with cell towers while hiking."

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