2 Search and Rescues provide understanding that Hiking alone always increases Risk – A Cell phone was a lifeline in both cases

On July 18,  2020,  around  10:45  PM,  YCSO  was  contacted  about  a  missing  16-year-old  autistic male  who had  separated  from  his  hiking  companion and had not  been seen since 7:30 PM.  The missing  teen was  expected to return to  a  trail  head  in the  Groom  Creek  area,  but  never  showed. Deputies  learned the teen had a phone, some  water,  food,  and was  wearing a head lamp.  Initial attempts  to  reach  him  by  phone were unsuccessful.  As  search  and rescue teams  were being called  out,  YCSO dispatchers  were able to  gain GPS  coordinates from  the  teen’s  cell  phone service provider.  Eventually,  the teen  was  contacted  by  phone and told dispatchers  his  legs  were hurting,  he was  lost  and had turned  his  headlamp  on.  He was  advised  not  to move further  and let  rescuers  find him.   Volunteers  from  the  Yavapai  County  Jeep Posse and Yavapai  County  Search and Rescue  Team Back  Country  Unit  began assembling.  Meanwhile,  YCSO  deputies  were already  well  into  the target  area after  hiking  from  different  directions  in  complete darkness,  including  a  6-mile  cross country  stretch  for  one team,  before  they  located  the teen around  1 AM. Volunteers  from  the Back  Country  unit  met  with  the  deputies  to  aid in  getting  the  teen  back  to the  trailhead  and his family  just  before  3 AM.   


On  July 19,  2020,  at  approximately 9:15  AM,  YCSO  received  a call  from  the  girlfriend  of  a  40year-old man who  was  hiking  on  the Red  Rock  Loop and called  her  to  report  he  was  overheated and thirsty. The  subject  had been  dropped  off  on  July  17,  2020 and  been  hiking  since then. Deputies  eventually  reached  the  subject  by  phone  and he refused to  remain  stationary  because he  was  trying  to locate  water  he  previously  hid in  the  wilderness.  YCSO  dispatchers  were able to obtain GPS  coordinates  from  his  cell  phone  as  search  teams  were being  assembled.  The subject  told deputies  he  did not  need help at  this  point.   By 10:30,  the  subject  called and  indicated  he was  now  stuck  on  the  mountain,  throwing  up,  had difficulty  moving,  and  exhibiting  hot  and cold  sweats. As  a result,  he was  trying  to get  to shade and eventually  found  a  small  cave  where  he  could rest.   

Deputies, along with volunteers from the Verde Search and Rescue Team, and Sedona fire personnel deployed in such a way to ‘sandwich’ the hiker in to an area in case he decided to move again.

Just before 1 PM, a medic from the Department of Public Safety was airlifted to the subject’s vicinity and eventually located the subject. He was airlifted out, transported to a ground ambulance and taken to the Verde Valley Medical Center. Currently, his condition is unknown.


There is always an increased risk to your personal safety when hiking alone.

The availability of a cell phone in each case was a true lifeline for either subject - especially because they were hiking alone. Also, it is critical to stay stationary during a search operation and allow rescue teams to come to you. Constant movement requires ongoing tracking by rescuers which could delay a rescue and risks further danger to the hiker avoided by remaining stationary. AND, be thankful for our dedicated deputies and search and rescue volunteers willing to come find you 24/7 without hesitation.

See below for more critical hiking tips from the US Forest Service-

Hiking Tips -

Hiking is a wonderful way to see and experience the many wonders of our nation’s forests. Visit your forest’s ranger district office, our All Maps page, or National Forest Store to obtain a trail map to help you plan your route based on your ability, available time and interest. Please follow these safety tips to ensure a safe journey: A photo of a family walking through the forest

Stay on marked trails.

Don’t hike alone. Let the slowest person in your party set the pace. This is especially important when children are a part of your group.

Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member and check in with them upon your return.

Develop an emergency plan before you start your trip. Make sure everyone knows what to do if they become lost or a medical emergency arises. Give children whistles with the instructions to "stop and blow" if they become lost.

Take frequent rests or vary your pace to maintain your energy wrong.

Drink plenty of water, even on cool, wet days. Never drink your entire supply between refills. Wear appropriate clothing, including sturdy boots that are broken in and are comfortable.

Consider using a hiking pole or walking stick to help maintain your balance in unlevel or hazardous areas.

Be aware of your surroundings, and pre-plan your approach before hiking through more hazardous areas. Wet surfaces can be a hazard and even more so if it's on a slope.

Consider what you'll do if you start to slide or fall so that you are prepared.

If falling, do not try to catch yourself; try to avoid landing on your hands, elbows or knees. Landing on the side of your body is much safer.

If the slope is such where you know you are going to slide, lowering your center of gravity, by sitting down and sliding on your feet or bottom, is safer.

If sliding while standing up, keep your weight over your feet and bend your knees—do not lean back or forward while sliding.

If on a day hike, extra weight wears you down and reduces your agility over uneven terrain. Pack as light as possible. Leave the extras behind, but consider bringing these essentials:


Sunglasses and a hat



Waterproof matches

First aid kit

Water and water-purifying tablets

High-energy bars, granola, candy, or fruit

Extra clothing. Temperatures can change dramatically, particularly if there is an elevation change. For every 1,000 feet of elevation gain, the temperature often drops three to five degrees.

Source: U. S. Forest Service; National Park Service