Sedona AZ (April 4, 2012) – Late last month, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office rescue personnel were called to Bell Rock in Sedona regarding a stranded female hiker. 38-year-old Christine Pae, visiting from Ohio, had started hiking around 4:00pm. The woman wondered off the path at some point during her hour long excursion and was unable to find her way back. Without food or a jacket, and only 5 oz. of water, Christine felt it necessary to call 911 for help just after 5 PM. A crew from the Verde Search and Rescue team was summoned and able to locate and rescue Christine just after 6:30pm. Critical factors in this successful rescue were a working GPS enabled cell phone, and Christine’s wise decision to remain stationary while awaiting rescue personnel.
Luckily, the outcome of this incident was positive, but that is not always the case. These circumstances typify recent incidents in the Sedona area where hikers placed themselves in situations far exceeding their knowledge and abilities. Last year, 2 people died in hiking related incidents in this area. The first took place on July 7, 2011. Rescue teams started their search after being notified of a possible missing person. Upon locating her body, it was deemed it likely that she had fallen 50-100 feet off of a ledge on Bell Rock and succumbed to injuries sustained in the fall. The second incident occurred in December of 2011, when the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the mother of 21-year-old son and indicated her son was a hiker stranded on a ledge near Castle Rock. Rescue crews attempted to locate her son, but unfortunately further attempts to contact him by cell phone were unsuccessful and prolonged the search. Upon locating the hiker’s body, rescue personnel found it likely that he had fallen approximately 150 feet and succumbed to injuries at his point of rest.
It is the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office hope that the occurrence of such incidents can be decreased to zero. Knowledge and preparation are the foundational factors that will promote safe and enjoyable hiking experiences in the beautiful wilderness areas of our county. Before planning hiking outings of any kind, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office asks that you keep in mind the following Hiking Quick Tips:
- Never hike alone
- Be in good physical condition
- Wear appropriate clothing (layers for warmth, bring a jacket, closed-toed shoes)
- Be aware of weather conditions and forecasts
- Tell someone where you are going (compose and leave an itinerary with a friend)
- Drink and pack plenty of water (livestrong.com recommends ½-1 cup (4-8 oz.) of water every 15 minutes during exercise—plan accordingly)
- Pay close attention to landmarks and your surroundings
- Pack a map and compass
- Stay on the trail
- Stay Put. If you are lost or injured, or nightfall is upon you, don’t continue hiking.
- Pack a first aid kit
- Never consume alcohol while hiking near cliffs or ledges
- Do not hike out of your level of experience or physical capabilities; know your limits
For more hiking tips, see the following website provided by the US Forest Service – http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/safety/safety.shtml
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov