County Honors Search And Rescue Volunteers For Life-Saving Actions


Gila County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Scott recognized Tonto Rim Search and Rescue members Warner Thompson and Bill Pitterle for a swift-water rescue in Fossil Creek on Sept. 29.

Gila County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Scott recognized Tonto Rim Search and Rescue members Warner Thompson and Bill Pitterle for a swift-water rescue in Fossil Creek on Sept. 29.

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Gila County honored two Tonto Rim Search and Rescue (TRSAR) volunteers after their actions saved one woman’s life.

On Sept. 29, a woman trapped in a whirlpool in the area of an old dam in Fossil Creek was saved thanks to Bill Pitterle’s and Warner Thompson’s actions, said Gila County Sheriff John Armer.

Clinging to an old rope, her head barely above water, the woman could not pull herself to safety.

A Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter dropped Pitterle, TRSAR’s commander, and Thompson, a volunteer, off in the canyon.

“When you arrived, you had to cross over the falls, navigate a slick and hazardous rock wall to get into position where you could tie off a safety line and rappel into the water with the female and get a harness on her,” Armer said.

“In doing this, you put yourself at great risk of being swept into the whirlpool and pulled underwater.”

The men rigged a pulley system, put a harness around the woman and pulled her to safety.

She was shortly thereafter released, with no major injuries.

“Your ability to make split-second decisions when a life is on the line, is unparalleled,” Armer said.

“The training you have received through TRSAR was plainly evident in your fast and efficient work in saving the life of someone you did not know.”

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