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.

A Busy Memorial Day Weekend for Search & Rescue and the CCSO

It was a three-day weekend with six calls for Search and Rescue ... that I know of.

Saturday started off with a missing dementia patient, who'd walked away from a home in Junipine Estates. The SAR team was called, but the subject was located by a passerby before searchers arrived. Deputies and one SAR member went to the subject's location to extricate him from the brush where he was sitting, and he was transported to the hospital.

Then there was the call-out for a technical rescue at Mooney Falls on the Havasupai Indian reservation. A DPS helicopter was en route when SAR was called, but it was unknown if high winds would prevent the helicopter from landing or doing a short haul in the canyon. So the technical rescue team headed that way from Flagstaff as quickly as possible, although it's a very long response time for ground SAR to travel that far. Luckily, the helicopter was able to land near the falls, and the patient was loaded without any technical rescue, air or otherwise, necessary. The SAR team made it all the way to the turn-off from Seligman before they were told to turn around.

Waterholes Canyon
Just after refueling the SAR vehicles back in Flagstaff and before getting back to the building, the tech team was told to head out of town again, this time to Waterholes Canyon just south of Page. The victim had fallen approximately 100 feet and was about 500 feet below the rim. Page Patrol deputies and Page Fire Department also responded, as did DPS Air Rescue, but it was decided that a helicopter technical rescue was not possible due to extremely windy conditions. The Coconino County Sheriff's SAR Coordinator requested additional assistance from the Park Service at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. With multi-agency cooperation, the victim and a paramedic who'd scrambled down to his location were raised to the rim, where a Classic Air Ambulance transported the patient to Flagstaff Medical Center at about 9pm. SAR personnel and Page Fire personnel then assisted the uninjured members of the canyoneering party from the bottom of the canyon to the rim. The CCSO technical rescue team returned to Flagstaff at 2am.

On May 28th, while the rescue in Waterholes Canyon was underway, there was a call about a lost hiker near Ashurst Lake. A Coconino County Sheriff's Office Corporal who is also an assistant SAR coordinator handled the call and conducted a hasty search. The Corporal successfully located the missing hiker.

The next morning, the Sheriff's office received a report of an accident at Willow Springs Lake, where a canoe had overturned. The victim, on shore at the time, tried to assist in a separate boat, which also overturned. From what I heard, the victim had called for help, went under, resurfaced and called again, and then disappeared.  A deputy from Forest Lakes and the Forest Lakes Fire Department responded to the scene, and Search and Rescue was requested to assist with the search. Our SAR Coordinator arranged for the Coconino County Sheriff's Office Dive Rescue Team and members of the NPS Glen Canyon Dive Rescue Team to respond, and an underwater search was conducted into Sunday evening. The search was suspended at dark and resumed on the morning of the 30th. The missing subject was located deceased at approximately 4:00 pm on Monday.

Also on Monday at approximately 9:00 pm, the Sheriff's Office received a call of separated hiking parties on the Humphreys Peak Trail. Deputies responded and located both parties.

Read more about these and other incidents the Coconino County Sheriff's Department was involved with over the Memorial Day weekend at FlagScanner.com.