Mesa firefighters had to help rescue one of their own Thursday afternoon after a bone breaking fall on a Tonto Basin area trail.
Steven Ward, 45, was hiking with fellow firefighters in Salome Canyon, in the Salome Wilderness area, when he jumped from a waterfall, landed on a rock and broke his right ankle, according to rescuers.
Two of Ward’s friends hiked out of the canyon, got a cell signal and called for help around 3:20 p.m.
Several Mesa firefighters stayed behind with Ward and began the tedious task of carrying him down the canyon and to the trail, said Bill Pitterle, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue commander.
Meanwhile, the Tonto Basin Fire Department and Gila County Sheriff’s Office made their way to the area, which is roughly nine miles east of the A Crossing, off Highway 188.
Salome Canyon, a popular canyoneering spot among hikers is accessed by the two-mile Jug Trail, once a Jeep road. At the creek, hikers have to hop over boulders, wade through several pools and rappel or jump down several waterfalls.
At one of the waterfalls, Ward reportedly jumped, landed on a boulder and broke his ankle. Friends carried Ward down the creek, passing through several pools until they reached the lower end of the trail.
There, Tonto Basin firefighters and a Hotshot crew from the Forest Service put Ward on a litter and hand carried him a quarter of a mile up a steep slope.
By this time, volunteers with Tonto Rim Search and Rescue had arrived and met up with the group carrying the litter. Ward was transferred to TRSAR’s litter, which has a wheel and he was rolled out to the trailhead where a Native Air helicopter airlifted him to a Valley hospital.