Emergencies: Rescue, Quad Accident, Rollover, Elk Crash

Tonto Rim Search and Rescue squad called on to make its 50th record-setting rescue of the year, 38 was previous record


While the majority of residents had the holiday weekend off, emergency personnel were busy in the Rim Country, responding to ATV accidents, a lost hiker, a rollover and another elk collision in Star Valley.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Pine-Strawberry Fire Department responded to a rollover around 1 a.m. on Forest Road 300. A 57-year-old man was driving when he lost control and rolled his vehicle. Guardian Air out of Camp Verde flew the man to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn.

Later in the day, just after sunset, a deputy assisted a motorist who had struck an elk in Star Valley. The driver was uninjured. Elk accidents account for more than 70 percent of all vehicle accidents in Star Valley.

From July 2 through Oct. 21, 14 elk were hit in Star Valley’s town limits, according to the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.

A number of elk collisions, nearly 30 percent, occur within an hour of sunset or sunrise along Highway 260, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

On Friday, two teenage girls were airlifted with serious injuries after crashing their ATV around 1:30 p.m. near Pine.

A 17-year-old female and a 14-year-old female were riding on a quad on the paved section of Hardscrabble Road when they crashed, both received head and facial injuries, said Bob Lashua, Pine-Strawberry fire chief.

Lashua said he did not know who was driving at the time or why the teens crashed, but neither was wearing a helmet.

The 17-year-old was flown to a Scottsdale hospital and the 14-year-old to a Flagstaff hospital.

On Friday, around 3:45 p.m., Tonto Rim Search and Rescue received a call from the Gila County Sheriff’s Office that a man was stuck on a remote trail off the Barnhardt Trail and needed help getting back to his car.

Reportedly the man planned to hike a loop through the mountains, starting out on the Barnhardt Trail and then taking the Rock Creek Trail around to his car.

This is a “fairly aggressive” hike that is not commonly used, Commander Bill Pitterle said.

The man hiked in about nine miles, got off the trail at some point and found himself trapped in an area with cliffs.

“He couldn’t go up or down and he wasn’t prepared for an overnight, so he called,” Pitterle said.

Luckily, the man had a cell phone and a GPS with him so he told rescuers exactly were he was.

Pitterle and a rope team member of the all-volunteer search and rescue squad drove to the Mazatzal Mountains and were getting ready to hike the nine miles to the man when a Department of Public Safety ranger helicopter was able to pick him up uninjured.

The man was flown to his vehicle and “continued on his way back home,” a press release states.

It has been a record year for Tonto Rim Search and Rescue volunteers. For the year, they have responded to more than 50 missions, which is “way over our record, which was 38,” Pitterle said.


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