Mon, Feb. 17

Verde Heritage 1969: PLANE SPOTS LOST HUNTER

"More than 100 men, 26 of them from Sedona, participated in an intensive 2-day search March 10 and 11, for Michael M. Hale, 19, of Lodi, Calif., pre-law student at Northern Arizona University, lost in a snowstorm east and south of Apache Maid Mt. near Stoneman Lake, 28 miles south of Flagstaff."

"Hale and a fellow student, William Bishop, of Phoenix, had been hunting bobcat in the area, Sunday morning, according to Will Steele, of Sedona, Chief Deputy for the Coconino County Sheriff's Department, when they found the tracks of 2 of the 'varmints' and separated in order to follow both. Overtaken by a sudden snowstorm, Hale found his own tracks covered and was unable to find his way to the pickup in which the 2 had been traveling."

"Bishop found his way to Highway 89, hitched a ride to Flagstaff, and reported his partner missing."

"Hale spent Sunday night under a pine tree without a fire. He was wearing a warm coat but had no matches, Steele says. Monday he walked on through the snow and at about 3 p.m. came upon Goswick Cabin on the Bar D Ranch miles from where he had become lost. The cabin was unoccupied and he spent the night there, again without food or fire."

"Monday morning with a heavy snowstorm continuing, a major search was organized by the Coconino Sheriff's Department, with men from the U. S. Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona State Highway Patrol, County Highway Department, Northern Arizona University, and many individual volunteers participating."

"In use were numerous 4-wheel drive vehicles (these were nearly helpless, so deep was the snow), 2 snow cats, 22 snowmobiles, highway department heavy equipment, and an Army helicopter from Flagstaff."

"The men set up a base camp at the Beaver Creek Water Shed Station Monday, and wearing snowshoes, the Sedona group walked all the trails between Beaver Creek Ranger Station and Clear Creek Ranger Station along Cedar Ridge and Cedar Flats into Tin Roof Pasture."

"As heavy snow continued falling, Sheriff Cecil Richardson called off the search temporarily late that afternoon and the men went home. They returned to the high country at 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to Bill Herrick, Captain of the Sedona Search and Rescue Unit, and continued the search. Late in the morning a helicopter was sent up."

"Meanwhile, acting as independent volunteers, Marty Satran and John Westman, of Sedona, took off from the Sedona Airport in a plane owned by Northern Arizona Aircraft, with Westman as pilot, and headed for the search area. About 1:45 p.m. they sighted human tracks around a water tank and the Goswick Cabin."

"They buzzed the cabin and Hale came running out waving his arms, Marty Satran reports. 'We were lucky. From the air you can sometimes spot tracks even when new snow has fallen into the original ones.' The 2 men dropped their coats to Hale, then returned to Sedona to report to the Sheriff's Department and Forest Service."

"The Search and Rescue Unit sent in a snowcat with Ira and Grant Smith, Ronald Bradley and Elias Valenzuela aboard. They brought Hale halfway to base camp. From here he was airlifted to the camp by helicopter, then driven to Flagstaff by Will Steele, who reports that Hale was in good shape despite his ordeal."

"In charge of the operation at base camp were Steele, Don Cook, Captain of the Flagstaff Search and Rescue Unit, and Don Mundell, of the Forest Service's Beaver Creek District."

"Steele paid special tribute to the help received by Forest Service personnel. 'Those men know that country like a book. Without them we'd have had a lot more problems.'"

"Sedona men taking part in the search, in addition to those already mentioned, were Bruce Coffey, Jay Elmer, Bob Brewer, Don and Dean Newton, Douglas Johnson, Paul Guyatte, Gail Herrick, Richard Earl, Jim Lemieux, Bill Moon, Bill Blanchard, Norman Koski, Calvin Willis, Dave Blauert, Mel Peterson, Gene Ash, Lester Earl, Lee Clemson, Grant Smith, Ira Smith, Don Cray, John Manfredi, and Dick Marshall."

"Other Valley men helping in the rescue work were Arnold Kester, of Cottonwood, wildlife manager with Arizona Fish and Game Department; Loft Hollamon, of Camp Verde, Yavapai County District 3 road foreman; and County Highway workers Clifford Baxter, Lynn Stegman, and Wayne Knoppe, who operated heavy equipment in clearing roads."

"The base radio station was at Page Springs Hatchery."

(The Verde Independent; Cottonwood; Thursday, March 20, 1969; page 11.)

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