These are my stories as a volunteer member of the Sheriff's Search & Rescue team in Coconino County, Arizona. I'll share what it's like to go from a beginner with a lot to learn to an experienced and, hopefully, valuable member of the team, as well as the missions, trainings, and other activities along the way.
About Coconino County
About Coconino County
Encompassing 18,661 square miles, Coconino County, Arizona, is the second largest county in the U.S. but one of the least populated. Our county includes Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo, Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi Indian Reservations, and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. Elevations range from 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River to 12,633 feet at the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Flagstaff.
May 31, 2009
Looking For The Boy Who Wasn't Lost
So, have I mentioned that I don't like riding quads? They're great tools for SAR, but I'd never ride one for ... fun? No offense 'r' nothin' to those who do enjoy them, but it's just not my thing.
ANYhow, we were looking for a 10 year-old boy, who'd disappeared from his family's campsite. At least, his mom didn't know where he was. Neither did the other relatives, friends, or caring strangers--both SAR and other campers--who were helping with the search throughout the night and early morning hours. The child had last been seen at about 7pm Friday, running after two vehicles driven by extended family.
So, okay, does this sound odd to you? Members of a family party decide to go camp somewhere else. So they leave for who-knows-where. A child from the group trails their vehicles as they drive off. Mom sees her son doing this but apparently turns and keeps walking away. Next thing she knows, both the vehicles and her boy are gone. But did the boy get in one of the vehicles, or did he disappear on foot? And where did those vehicles go?
The answers to those questions weren't known for more than 12 hours, during which time numerous ground units and a DPS helicopter searched the area extensively. Finally, a few hours after sunrise, the helicopter spots two SUV's matching the description of those driven by the aunt and a cousin, a short ways off one of a crazy network of cinder-covered roads. They land and confirm, thankfully, that the boy is with them.
But did those he was with ever turn on their cell phones and let anyone know? No, although there was coverage in the area. Did they think to turn around and let Mom know her son was with them? No. Do they tell anyone where they were going? No, and they probably didn't even know, either. Does any of this make sense? Not to me.
I'm just glad the boy was with them. It would have been a whole different story had those vehicles been located, but the child wasn't there.
Here's the brief newspaper story: Flagstaff Boy Found After 13 Hours Missing
In other news:
Search For Missing Grand Canyon Hiker Scaled Back
Supai Reopens Monday (Things have changed since the August, 2008, floods.)
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