Teen Rescued After Eight-Hour Search


After searching for more than eight hours, rescue personnel airlifted a 16-year-old teen out of a remote section of the Barnhardt Trail with a sprained ankle Monday night.

Tonto Rim Search and Rescue were called out to the Mazatzal Wilderness around 7:30 p.m. to locate the lost teen and his friend, said Commander Bill Pitterle.

Pitterle gave the following account of the incident.

The two teens were hiking a 16-mile loop trail around Mazatzal peak. Three-quarters through the hike, the teens lost the trail in a washed out section and proceeded down the Y-Bar Creek.

The trail is very rough with ledges and steep drop offs. The 16-year-old lost his footing, fell and sprained his ankle.

The teens carried on for another mile, hoping to locate the trail, until the 16-year-old could no longer walk.

The other teen climbed to the top of a nearby ridge and called the sheriff's office on his cell phone.

A deputy hiked up the trail, but could not locate the teens, so search and rescue was called for assistance.

"It was a very remote and rugged area, making it difficult for us to get in with the raining and lighting," Pitterle said.

A helicopter searched the area and found the friend on the peak. He was airlifted out to the command center around midnight and told rescuers were the 16-year-old was located.

The helicopter, which had been assisting with rescues at the Havasupai village in northern Arizona, couldn't get the teen because the pilot had timed out.

"We had a hard time getting a new helicopter," Pitterle said.

Around 3 a.m., a new helicopter located the teen and picked him up.

"If you pick a place in the Mazatzal's to get lost, that is virtually impossible to get at, then he picked it," Pitterle said.

The hobbled teen was picked up at the command center by his parents. Pitterle said he did not know if he went to a hospital.

"It has been a pretty busy summer and a very difficult one," Pitterle said.

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