Search And Rescue Teams Remind Hikers To Be Cautious In Backcountry

Aug 13, 2019, 8:40 PM | Updated: 8:42 pm

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah – Search and rescue teams are reminding hikers to be cautious in the Utah backcountry after two hikers had to be rescued by helicopter yesterday. There were two separate incidents in which hikers ended up in steep, dangerous, rocky terrain. The Department of Public Safety helicopter was essential to both rescues.

Early in the afternoon, the helicopter was called out to help an injured hiker at around 12,000 feet elevation in the High Uintas Wilderness Area yesterday. Shari Richins was hiking with her husband and friends on the steep slopes of Hayden Peak when a large boulder came loose and knocked her in the head.

“The people that were with her did a fantastic job of taking care of her,” said Sgt. Wyatt Weber, who clipped Shari Richins to the hoist at the end of the rope.

“She was in good spirits,” he said. “She was talking to me. She was excited to get out of there. But, she was doing all right.”

The group was lucky to get a cell phone call out.

On the phone today, Richins said she’s grateful, but feeling sore, and has a wound on her head from the rock.

Right after that hoist mission, Salt Lake County needed helicopter help with a lost hiker near Lake Blanche.

“So, we headed straight over there, and started searching for that guy,” said Weber.

A woman and her 61-year-old father, with dementia, got separated near the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

“He had wandered off the trail,“ said Sgt. James Blanton, with the Unified Police Department Canyon Patrol.

When the man was first spotted by a rescue team member on the ground he was on a steep slope with loose rock.

“He had no food,” said Blanton. “No water, very limited clothing. He was not wearing the appropriate hiking shoes.”

Ground crews hiked in from two different trailheads, while the helicopter shuttled 10 searchers up into the area, saving critical time.

“Once they got to him, search and rescue members secured him, and hiked him back over to a landing zone,“ said Blanton.

They airlifted him out of the area in good condition.

“We were very lucky to get to him before nightfall,“ said Blanton.

A busy day for the aero bureau?

“We have days like that all the time,“ said Weber.

He said, the state helicopter flies 300 missions a year, about 60 are hoist rescues.

“A couple of weeks ago, we ended up hoisting five people in the middle of the night,“ he said. That included two separate incidents.

The most important piece of advice he has to share with hikers:

“When you’re in trouble, don’t hesitate to call for help,” said Weber.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

“Call early instead of having us come in and hoist somebody that’s badly injured or worse.”

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Search And Rescue Teams Remind Hikers To Be Cautious In Backcountry