Public Safety helicopter on pace to conduct more search and rescue missions than last year

Mar 21, 2023, 3:35 PM

The Utah Department of Public Safety has already conducted 200 search and rescue missions this year...

The Utah Department of Public Safety has already conducted 200 search and rescue missions this year — well on pace to eclipse last year's total. The Utah Department of Public Safety has already conducted 200 search and rescue missions this year — well on pace to eclipse last year's total. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

MAPLE CANYON, Sanpete County — The slot canyons found throughout central and southern Utah are a top tourist attraction for people looking to take in the state’s immense natural beauty, but they can also pose as a serious danger for those venturing in and around them.

The Utah Department of Public Safety last week rescued Washington City Police Department Sgt. Brad Coleman from a slot canyon in Washington County after he was stranded in the canyon for 15 to 20 hours.

Then, on Saturday, the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of four hikers who were suspected to be lost in the Box Canyon area of Maple Canyon.

According to a release from the sheriff’s office, deputies were eventually able to locate the vehicle of someone in the hiking group before Sanpete Search and Rescue was dispatched and attempted to locate the hikers by GPS location.

“Due to the terrain an exact GPS location was not available; however, based on the location of the vehicle it was believed the party was in the Box Canyon area,” said a release from the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office.

A Department of Public Safety helicopter was eventually dispatched and arrived on the scene, where it was able to locate the hiking group, the sheriff’s office said.

“Four individuals were hoisted to safety and released to medical teams,” the release said.

As it turns out, the Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau this year is already on pace to eclipse the total number of search and rescue missions that it conducted last year, said Sgt. Wyatt Weber, with the Utah Division of Public Safety Aero Bureau.

This is happening for different reasons, Weber said.

“Six years ago we added a hoist component to our operation,” Weber said. “So, before, the only real option for a hoist in Utah was LifeFlight and they’ve got some restrictions, you know, as to what they can do.”

The Aero Bureau started a hoist program and began going out on search and rescue missions that might’ve taken a ground search and rescue team hours or even days.

“We can come in and do those rescues in 10 or 15 minutes,” Weber said.

Additionally, an uptick in people flocking to Utah’s desert regions — specifically since the pandemic — has led to more incidents, thus more missions for the Aero Bureau.

“I’m sure there’s a component of additional people being stuck. What those numbers would be, I don’t know,” Weber said. “I’m sure it’s a multifaceted problem.”

Last year, Weber said the bureau conducted 500 search and rescue missions. Now, nearly three months through the new year, the bureau has already been involved in 200 missions.

“We’re well above where we have been in the past,” Weber said, adding that he’s thankful for funding from the state Legislature that provided funds for a new helicopter.

“This is one of those programs in the state where I can go, ‘Hey, you know, here’s 25 people who this year would be dead had we not been there,'” Weber said. “It does save lives. I think it’s money well spent.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

(KSL TV)...

Tamara Vaifanua

Exhibit honors life and legacy of Utah photographer

We’re closing out AAPI Heritage Month with a closer look at a new exhibit in South Salt Lake.

14 hours ago

James Kimose, Farr West, celebrates his 101st birthday in Ogden on Sunday. Kimose is a WWII marine ...

Gabrielle Shiozawa

Utahn — perhaps the last Air Force Iwo Jima veteran — turns 101 on Memorial Day

Every day. That's how often Jim Kimose thinks about his time at Iwo Jima — including witnessing the historic raising of the American flag — and his service in the United States Air Force during World War II.

14 hours ago

FILE: A flag is placed at Margery Johnson Clapton’s grave at Larkin Sunset Gardens Cemetery in Sa...

Don Brinkerhoff, KSL NewsRadio

Many ways in Utah to honor those who served this Memorial Day weekend

Many cities across northern Utah are offering ways to honor veterans for Memorial Day.

14 hours ago

Wildlife officials are warning hikers about rattlesnakes since they are appearing later than usual....

Lauren Steinbrecher

Rattlesnakes are appearing on Utah trails, around homes later than normal

A local rattlesnake expert is seeing a rise in reports of rattlesnake sightings on Utah trails, and she's got some helpful tips to keep you and your pets safe.

2 days ago

The aftermath of the small plane crash in Washington County. (Enterprise Fire and EMS)...

Michael Houck

Pilot uninjured after crashing small plane in southern Utah, officials say

Officials are trying to piece together a bizarre plane crash after a man bought a plane and crashed it in southern Utah Sunday afternoon

2 days ago

The water bursting into the air on Wasatch Boulevard and Eastwood Drive. (Courtesy: Amy Edwards)...

Michael Houck

Water bursts out of Millcreek road due to broken water line

A water line break caused water to gush out of a Millcreek road Saturday afternoon. 

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Asian little girl playing arcade game on the computer machines at the shopping mall outlets...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Close up of an offset printing machine during production...

Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.

Public Safety helicopter on pace to conduct more search and rescue missions than last year