Cottonwood AZ (April 8, 2016) – On April 3, 2016, at approximately 3 P.M., a YCSO Forest Patrol deputy was dispatched to reports of two missing children, a 9-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl, who were last seen off trail on Mingus Mountain. Another 14-year-old girl had returned to camp and reported these 2 missing which included her brother and a friend. The trio had been hiking along a forest road and as they were returning to camp, the other 2 decided to wander off trail and check out a pond in the distance. She continued along the trail and eventually returned to base camp after being unable to find them. She assumed they were lost and indicated last seeing them around 11AM. Neither of the lost kids had a cell phone or other means of communication. Others in the area began a search, but no one contacted the Sheriff’s Office until 3 PM.
Deputies immediately obtained clothing descriptions and called out members of various YCSO search and rescue teams. The Rescue 1 helicopter was also requested. Parents, who had been looking for the missing kids, alerted other citizens in the area. As deputies were coordinating a search effort, 3 concerned citizens who were searching the area called base camp just before 3:30PM to report finding both kids. These citizens had been shouting the names of the missing kids while checking an area just off Forest Road 413. At one point they heard one of the kids shout back and as the citizens hiked up a ridge, they made contact with the pair and returned them to camp. Both were dehydrated and the 14-year-old had minor scrapes to her leg due to a fall. Medical personnel from the Jerome Fire Department arrived and treated and released both at the scene.
Here are the lessons:
Stay on the trail / marked roads – This group was from out of the area and unfamiliar with the Mingus Mountain topography which includes unexpected sharp drop-offs and ravines. Adults should make sure juveniles are supervised and clearly follow set safety guidelines when camping and ‘wanting to explore.’
Carry a cell phone/walkie-talkie/etc. – The ability to communicate your location may be the only lifeline to a quick rescue. It is also important to remain stationary and let rescue personnel come to you. The YCSRT (Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team) Hug-a-Tree program teaches children and adults around Yavapai County this important lesson. See http://www.ycsrt.org/?q=hug-a-tree for details.
Call immediately when you realize you are lost or you know someone who is – Time is critical in these situations and although rescue personnel deploy quickly, there may be an arrival delay depending on how remote the area is and the topography. An immediate call is especially important if nightfall is closing in.
Bring water/snacks – even short hikes can turn into long ordeals if you become lost or injured.
Carry a whistle – which cuts through all types of ambient noise and can be heard for long distances out in the open.
Know the area – simple research can provide information on the recommended skill level for your hike and any known dangers.
Share your itinerary – Let someone not involved in the hike know your plans including an expected return time and location.
For more important tips, see: