Sun, March 29

Man falls to death in Oak Creek Canyon

A man, thought to be in his 30s, appears to have fallen to his death in Oak Creek Canyon. Gerry Blair of the Coconino Sheriff's Office says that the Coconino Search and Rescue recovered the body below Grasshopper Point north but outside the Sedona City limits.

A hiker in the area had found the body and called 911.

The body was taken to the Coconino Medical Examiner to determine cause of death and identity.

Suspect gets credit and jail time

About 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies were dispatched to a reported identity theft at the Bell Rock Inn in the Village of Oak Creek. A 41-year-old woman who was in town for business told deputies she met "Josh" in the hotel bar and invited him back to her hotel room. She didn't know "Josh" but he seemed like a nice guy to spend time with. Later, "Josh" asked the victim for a ride to get some cigarettes. Although he initially said he did not have any cash, he claimed to have a few dollars for cigarettes.

The victim took "Josh" to the nearby Circle K and saw "Josh" signing a receipt for the cigarettes as if he purchased the items with a credit card. She then dropped "Josh" off at his home in the 300 block of Verde Valley School Road. When she returned to the hotel, she found her room key missing along with her credit cards and driver's license. At this time, the victim realized she had left her purse unattended while "Josh" was in the room and suspected he had stolen the property. She immediately called her credit card company and learned that "Josh" had apparently spent $61 for a carton of cigarettes at the VOC Circle K. Deputies contacted Circle K employees, ordered a copy of the transaction on security video and obtained a copy of the signed receipt.

Deputies then went to the home on Verde Valley School Road and identified "Josh" as Joshua Becker, 24. Becker admitted meeting a woman at the hotel and spending time in her room, but denied stealing anything. But, at his parents' insistence, Becker finally admitted stealing the property and hiding the items in his closet, according to the YCSO. The victim's driver's license and five credit cards, including the one used to purchase cigarettes, were recovered there. Deputies also found the carton of cigarettes. Deputies allege Becker made at least two Internet purchases totaling $400 using the victim's cards.

Becker was arrested and booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center on four counts of taking control of credit card from another and one count of ID theft. The charges are all felonies.

Roundabout rollover

Just before 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Nick E. Valdez was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment for head and body injuries as result of a motorcycle accident.

Valdez was traveling north on Clarkdale Parkway with four other motorcyclists. He was reportedly in the middle of a group that slowed to enter the Mountain Gate roundabout. Valdez, however continued at the same rate of speed and did not slow with the rest of the group. Valdez moved to the left of the slowing motorcycles hitting the curb at the entrance to the roundabout, which ejected him from his motorcycle. The speed on Clarkdale Parkway is 25 mph, but inside the roundabout the posted speed is 15 mph.

Solo climber waits for rescue

Montezuma-Rimrock Fire District rescue crews were called to the confluence of the Bell and Weir trails near the Beaver Creek Ranger Station Saturday afternoon. A man had called 911 reported that he had found a disabled climber or hiker on the trail suffering from a fall.

The victim, a 23-year-old man, reportedly had been with another party but decided to go his own way and climb a local rock face.

It's believed the man fell as much as 40 feet and suffered a serious head injury. Others on the trail told rescue crews they thought it was possible they heard somebody calling but did not investigate.

The hiker was packed up and carried for 15 minutes across the creek to a landing zone, where he was loaded into a medical helicopter.

Crews from the fire agency say the man was climbing alone and could have waited for hours for help to arrive.

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