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.

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January 7, 2013

A Happy Ending for the New Year

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I know it's been a while since I've written anything here, and the reasons are many-fold, including the fact that we just haven't received as many SAR calls over the past several months as we did before that, during my five years and counting on the team. And that's a good thing! It may be that more calls have been resolved by Sheriff's Deputies before they've gotten to the point that the team was needed and/or perhaps fewer people have gotten into bad SAR-type situations recently ... at least, in our area. But whatever the case may be, my phone hasn't rung nearly as much with "SAR" showing up on the display.

But there have been missions, including some technical rescues I've not been able to respond to. I just can't always write about the missions I'm involved with ... unfortunately for me, being the prolific writer-type. So I sometimes have to sit on my hands. :)

Suffice it to say, some of those missions haven't dealt with happy endings like the one that just happened yesterday, when a 7-year-old boy who'd been missing since approximately 10am the day before was reunited with his family after an extensive search that included Search & Rescue teams from several counties, with ground-pounders, K9 and mounted units, jeep posses, and air support from DPS, the Air Force and perhaps other agencies I'm not aware of, along with many locals who came out to help search. Cole Evans had spent a long, cold night alone "out there," under an abandoned trailer, so we learned when he was finally located around 9-something the next morning.

Here's an article about the search, with some great photos, including a touching reunion with Cole and his dad.

Cole Evans Found Alive and Well!

All I can say is: YAY!! What a huge relief. As I was searching through much of the night with my field team, I kept noticing the cold -- at freezing or below with snow still on the ground among the pinion, juniper and cactus -- thinking about Cole and wondering if he were cold and scared.  As we searched beneath trees and up in the branches, and under and inside abandoned vehicles and trailers, I kept hoping that someone would say over the radio that the boy been found. It didn't matter who found him of course -- just that he was safe.

As my group debriefed back at Incident Command in the middle of the night, I looked over at the house Cole should be in, warm and safe. I saw the lights on and thought about what the family inside must be going through.

As my search partner and I drove away, talking to ward off the need for sleep after our shift, we saw lights of searchers' headlamps glimmering in the distance, the headlights from searchers' vehicles, red and blue flashing lights from law enforcement vehicles, lights in the sky from searching aircraft, and we wondered if Cole was seeing or hearing any of that.

Needless to say, I was so relieved to hear, later that morning after I'd gotten some rest and pulled prickly pear spines out of my socks, that Cole had been found, and that he was "fine" and eating snacks. I started to see the happy announcement posted all over social media, where people had been sharing search updates from the media and worrying together about the boy.

Thinking about recent missions that didn't have a similar outcome, this one left me with a very big smile and a happy heart. Let's hope the trend continues.

1 comment:

Mike McComb said...

That was a cold night search. I was on Larry's team working up and down and canyon. Glad he was found safe and the search didn't go a second night.