Iron County Search and Rescue conducts snowy rescue; Utah Sheriff SAR group urges responsible recreating

ST. GEORGE — Iron County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team members were dispatched to a snowy rescue Sunday evening on Cedar Mountain when two hikers got lost.

Iron County Search and Rescue team members rescue lost hikers on the “C” Trail, Cedar City, Utah, March 22, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Search and Rescue, Cedar City News

Iron County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Del Schlosser told Cedar City News that a male and female in their late teens were hiking from the bottom of the “C” Trail on the face of Cedar Mountain headed to the top to meet family.

The hikers were unprepared for the conditions, Schlosser said. The male was wearing tennis shoes, a T-shirt and jeans, and the female had tennis shoes, a sweatshirt and jeans.

Approximately three-quarters of the way up the trail, the snow became knee-high, and the hikers lost the trail. Schlosser said that as night set in, the hikers were unable to determine where they were on the mountain, their feet were soaking wet and the pair became very cold.

The hikers called family and then 911, he said.

Search and Rescue was dispatched at approximately 9:25 p.m., with the first deputy on scene by 10 p.m.

“Deputy Mike Hilleger arrived at a staging location near the GPS coordinates provided via the 911 call … and began to walk in on foot,” Schlosser said.

Iron County Search and Rescue team members rescue lost hikers on the “C” Trail, Cedar City, Utah, March 22, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Search and Rescue, Cedar City News

Hillegar made contact with the hikers at 10:25 p.m. Both were in early stages of hypothermia, Schlosser said.

Warming layers were provided to both hikers until additional search and rescue members arrived on snowmobiles and hiked in with snowshoes.

The hikers were transported via snowmobile to paramedics. Both hikers refused medical transport and further evaluation.

Hilleger and Deputy Dustin Roy transported the hikers to the bottom of the mountain where they were able to make contact with their families, Schlosser said.

SAR teams voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way

With the new coronavirus continuing to spread, many people are heading outdoors to practice the recommended social distancing. In light of that, the Utah Sheriff Search and Rescue Association has seen – and believes they will continue to see – an increased amount of search and rescue callouts.

A post shared on the Iron County Search and Rescue’s Facebook page said the following:

​Every time a SAR team gets deployed, the members of that team voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way for the sole purpose of helping someone in need. With the COVID-19 virus continuing to spread, every time a team gets called out, we now face an additional threat above and beyond the usual hazards.

With that in mind, the association is urging people to recreate responsibly and more conservatively.

“During this time, we ask all outdoor users to enjoy the outdoors in a safer and more conservative manner than normal,” the post said. “If you’re an avid peak bagger or canyoneer, we ask that you consider simply going for a hike instead of something more challenging. If you’re new to hiking, please do some research before you go, select a hike that is suitable for beginners, and tell a responsible person your itinerary. While on the trail, please maintain the 6-foot social distancing recommended by the CDC.”

Search and Rescue is considered a critical resource – one that the volunteers stand at the ready to fulfill – but the association said in their post that they need the public’s help so that their resources aren’t overloaded.

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