Tue, July 23

Tracking gadget helps find horseman

YAVAPAI COUNTY - The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office was notified Sunday morning that a man on a horse packing trip was lost or stranded. The man had been heading from the Table Mesa area north of Lake Pleasant, to Horse Thief Basin in Yavapai County. The initial request for help came from a "Spot" brand satellite messaging device which signaled a request for emergency assistance.

The device also sent identification for its owner, a 47-year Glendale resident, along with GPS coordinates and emergency contact information. The device uses satellite technology and will work where cell phone signals is ineffective. Dispatch contacted the man's wife and learned he was walking alone when one of his two horses became disabled. He had already been out overnight and his water supply was depleted. The satellite device continued to provide GPS information as a search was being coordinated and deputies were able to talk briefly with the man via cell phone before the call was lost due to poor signal.

At 11a.m., a crew from Prescott's Guidance Helicopter offered to provide aerial support and, by using GPS coordinates, the crew located the man within 45 minutes and provided search directions for ground search crews. A Forest Patrol deputy made contact with the man and supplied food and water by 2 p.m. He was in good condition and said he would stay overnight to rest his horses for the morning. It was expected to take at least a full day to walk out.

However, Monday morning, Sheriff's dispatchers were advised the man had injured his leg after falling while riding one of the horses. He requested assistance due to the injury and used his "Spot" tracker to relay new GPS coordinates. DPS launched a Ranger Helicopter to rescue him, along with ground crews from the Yavapai Sheriff's Office Response Team, including the Backcountry and Quad Units. Three hours later, Ranger had the subject on board for transport to John C. Lincoln, though his injuries were not life-threatening. Family members and the Quad Unit, were able to locate the horses and begin arrangements to bring them home.