Woman Injures Ankle Crossing Fossil Creek

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Reports that a woman had been swept downstream and was hanging precariously from a tree above Fossil Creek Saturday turned out to be exaggerated.

While a woman in her 20s had fallen into the creek while hiking with friends, she had only injured her ankle and was not in danger of drowning.

Bill Pitterle, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue commander, said he initially got a call about 2 p.m. that a woman from the Valley was clinging to a tree after being swept a third of mile downstream from a waterfall, south of the Fossil Springs Trail.

However, when the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department and Gila County Sheriff’s Sgt. Terry Hudgens arrived, the woman was actually farther north than reported and not in the water.

The woman told Hudgens she had been crossing the creek with friends when she fell from a log and jammed her left ankle between two rocks.

Her friends helped pull her from the creek, but she was unable to walk back to the trailhead, some four miles up a steep trail.

Not knowing this, Pitterle along with volunteers grabbed their water rescue gear and drove to the trailhead, 20 miles northeast of Payson.

When TRSAR arrived at the trailhead, they were told the woman was fine and did not need to be rescued from the creek. However, she still needed to be carried out. Volunteers wheeled a litter down to the woman and with the help of the woman’s seven friends, carried her out.

“This was a great help because several of her friends were strong and helped carry her out,” Pitterle said.

It took four hours to carry the woman to the trailhead, where she was then transported by ambulance to the hospital.

Hudgens said it is possible she broke her ankle, but he did not know for sure.

This was TRSAR’s second rescue from the creek in less than a week. On July 19, a family of four, including two children, ran out of water and became dehydrated while hiking Fossil Springs Trail.

Half a dozen TRSAR volunteers hiked down to the family, gave them water and helped them walk back to their vehicle.

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