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Yavapai County search-and-rescue volunteers stage successful operations

The Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team 4x4 Unit helps with a stranded Jeep in the Turkey Creek area, west of Interstate 17 and south of Cleator. (YCSRT/Courtesy)

The Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team 4x4 Unit helps with a stranded Jeep in the Turkey Creek area, west of Interstate 17 and south of Cleator. (YCSRT/Courtesy)

Members of the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team recently were involved in operations that ended with the stranded subjects being found and returned to safety.

Wickenburg-area rescue

The Southern Unit of the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team (YCSRT) responded to a call for help Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2019, to locate and rescue a couple from Cottonwood who had become stranded with a broken Utility Vehicle (UTV) in the desert north of Wickenburg.

The couple, camping in Calamity Wash off Constellation Road, had headed out in late afternoon to enjoy the desert near Sophie’s Flat. With no maps or navigation tools, the pair had lost their way. They asked some passers-by for directions but took a wrong turn and headed deeper into the rugged terrain as the sun began to set.

Topping a ridge, they stopped and got out in an attempt to find their bearings. When they decided to proceed and climbed back into the UTV, it would not start. Now stranded as it was growing darker and colder, they decided to start a warming fire and called 911.

The call to 911 allowed YCSO dispatchers to obtain their cellphone’s location via GPS coordinates. The rescue team was called out, and a “hasty” team of two 4x4 trucks was sent to the location, which was high atop the ridge south of the “box” of the Hassayampa River and overlooking Dinosaur Wash. Nearby, a team with another UTV stood by if needed. Rescue workers maintained phone contact with the pair throughout.

Just after 9:30 p.m., the couple were found. As rescuers approached, the couple tried to put out the fire but instead ignited their spare fuel container and the fire spread. Luckily, recent rains and a lack of wind kept the flames from reaching nearby vegetation, and rescue workers helped the couple extinguish the flames.

The rescue team transported the couple safely back to their camp along with an anxious pair of dogs. A one-hour afternoon trip had become a late-night ordeal.

Patrick Brown, SYCSRT unit manager, reminds outdoor users to always make sure they know their route, carry maps and adequate water, have fully charged phones, supplies and clothing, travel in numbers when possible, and always leave word with a responsible party as to destination and timeline.

SYCSRT, based in Wickenburg, is looking for more volunteers. All are welcome to apply. For more information, call (928) 231-1034 or visit www.ycsrt.org.

Rescue from Turkey Creek

The YCSRT 4x4 Unit received a call from a YCSO Forest Patrol deputy late on the afternoon of Feb. 7, 2019, requesting 4x4 Unit resources to make their way to a stranded Jeep in the Turkey Creek area, west of Interstate 17 and south of Cleator.

Seven personnel in four vehicles worked a two-pronged strategy to make their way to the vehicle and its two occupants. Despite the dark conditions, cold temperatures and wet/unmarked trails, the team made it to the subjects where they found a Jeep Wrangler with its front end buried in the heavily flowing Turkey Creek.

The team, under the direction of the Forest Patrol deputy, determined that the best course of action was to use a tow strap and pull the vehicle from the river. Once free, the subjects were able to make it back to the highway in their vehicle and safely return home.

As Sheriff Scott Mascher noted during a recent all-volunteer recognition at the Elks Theatre in Prescott, “The Sheriff’s Office is honored by the work and dedication of all our rescue volunteers who are willing to put their own safety at risk to save a stranger.”

Information provided by members of the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team.

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