A teenager’s 25-foot fall off a canyon wall put search and rescue teams to the test Saturday night, with arduous swims through icy pools dragging a floating litter.
The 19-year-old took a face-first tumble off a ledge in the rugged Salome Canyon near Roosevelt Lake.
His girlfriend watched the tumble, which broke several bones, said Steve Holt, Tonto Basin fire chief.
A group of hikers helped move the teen out of a deep pool and to a small island.
It took emergency crews hours to make the treacherous trip into the canyon in the dark.
A Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter helped rescuers pinpoint the teen’s location by shining a spotlight at the bottom of a waterfall.
“The injured subject’s location required that we swim a floating litter up from the mouth of the canyon through four different pools with three rocky ascents separating them to his location,” said Bill Pitterle, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue commander.
Four members of Tonto Basin Fire accompanied two TRSAR members on the swim and ascent up the canyon.
The helicopter flew the teen to a hospital for treatment of several broken bones.
The Gila County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse helped carry gear on pack animals, a critical assist on a challenging all-night mission.