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Search and rescue teams readying for the busiest time of the year

Posted at 5:43 PM, Mar 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-31 20:34:01-04

AMERICAN FORK CANYON, Utah -- Search and rescue crews were sent twice to help hikers in danger in Washington County this past weekend.

Both were successful missions, but in the midst of another spring break week, there are things officials want people to know about being out in the elements.

With the weather finally feeling like spring, Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon said it’s the start of the busiest season for search and rescue crews.

“This is the time of year that people are really starting to spread their wings after they’ve been cooped up all winter,” Sgt. Cannon said. “They’re starting to be engaged in more outdoor activities and that has it’s own set of problems that will go along with it.”

Problems like, not wearing proper clothing, not bringing enough food supplies and going beyond one’s capabilities.

“We’ll see people hiking at Bridal Veil Falls wearing just shorts and sandals and that can create problems as well,” Sgt. Cannon said.

It’s a popular hiking spot where there have been a lot of rescue missions.

One man, last year, was rappelling down the waterfall when his rope became knotted and he was stuck hanging on for hours.

“What really starts causing the problem is when people start climbing the rock faces around it,” Sgt. Cannon said.

With the snow still in the mountains and a good amount of it too, Sgt. Cannon said hikers really need to be aware of where they’re hiking.

The melting snow often causes 40 to 50 foot caverns hidden underneath snowfields, places someone could fall into.

That’s what happened to thispuppy that fell more than 40 feet Stewart Falls.

What people often don’t anticipate is how cold the water temperature is in comparison to the warm air temperature.

“It doesn’t take long for someone to be completely incapacitated even for someone who might be a strong swimmer,” Sgt. Cannon said.

Other things to be aware of include wearing long pants while riding ATV’s or motorcycles, and preparing enough food and supplies to stay overnight in the mountains if needed.