Search and rescue crews remind Utahns to use caution after pair of mountain rescues

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-03 20:14:38-04

NORTHERN UTAH -- Search and rescue crews are asking families and hikers to be more cautious after two mountain rescues were carried out Saturday.

A mountain biker and a family of eight, including children as young as 3 years old, needed to be saved.

The mountain biker was with a group of about 10 friends who were coming down the Mill D. North Trail.

“It’s a popular trail for bikers,” said an officer with Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue.

Jason Christensen was among those in the group with the biker.

“We were coming down the trail, getting toward the bottom and it was a faster section,” he recalled. “It looked like he tried to avoid a rock in the middle of the trail …it kind of catapulted him. He was cartwheeling through the air, landed on his head pretty good.”

Christensen said his friend was convulsing and was unconscious. He and another friend have training in wilderness matters as well as in treating concussions, so they stayed behind while others got help.

“We know enough to keep him good, he was asking the same question over and over at first, but then by the time paramedics got there he was joking back with us, and trying to tell us he would be OK, which it looks like he will be OK," Christensen said.

While they prepared well for their ride, another family with young children took a wrong turn. Steve Petty, Davis County Search and Rescue Vice Commander, said the family was in unfamiliar terrain.

“They are new to Utah, they only moved here a couple weeks ago and maybe underestimated what they are taking off on,” Petty said.

He said the family got lost and started on the Bonneville Shoreline, which he said is a popular spot, but then they headed up to the Great Western trail.

“Dad had the 3–year-old in his backpack and the other kids were along, it was pretty ambitious," Petty said.

Ambitious and potentially dangerous. Petty said steep cliffs surrounded the family. After 9 hours of hiking all the way up to the ridge line, they finally called 911.  Commander Petty and about 12 other search and rescue members helped bring them back down safely using a helicopter.

He said it would have helped had the family worn brightly colored clothing, but they managed to find them with GPS coordinates.  It took Petty and another member two hours to hike up to them.  He says everyone needs prepare for the worst this summer in the mountains, including bringing water, cell phone chargers, and flashlights.