FLAGSTAFF — Summer has arrived and agencies in Coconino County are responding to search and rescue efforts. Visitors are coming up to get out of the heat in other areas. The Kaibab Forest, Grand Canyon, the San Francisco Peaks and other areas present their own dangers. Williams still experiences heat, for example, and many neglect to take water on their hikes. Now that the monsoons are here, lightning presents a problem in northern Arizona. Lightning strikes can kill or cause fires.
The following are several incidents that happened over the last few weeks as reported by the Coconino County Sheriff’s office.
On June 21, 2016 just after 9:00 pm, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a 70-year-old female hiker suffering from unknown medical condition that rendered her unable to complete her hike on Humphreys Peak Trail. The woman and her husband began their hike at 7:30 am, they reached the summit and were on their way out when the woman became unable to hike further. Guardian Medical Transport, Sheriff’s deputy and Search and Rescue personnel responded. Responders carried the woman to the Snowbowl parking lot using a litter carry. The woman who is from the Phoenix area was then transported by ground ambulance to Flagstaff Medical Center.
On June 25, 2016 around 2:10 pm, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a 50-year-old female hiker who was conscious but had suffered injuries after falling approximately 100 feet downhill while hiking Maxwell Trail in West Clear Creek. Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and Blue Ridge Fire and Medics hiked to the location of the injured woman, tended to her injuries and then prepared her for a short haul by a Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Heli-Rescue Technician and an Arizona DPS Air Rescue helicopter out of Kingman. The short haul occurred around 5:45 pm. The woman who was hiking with a group of approximately six people was from the Phoenix area. Once short hauled out of West Clear Creek, she was then transported by Guardian Air to Flagstaff Medical Center.
On June 25, 2016 around 3:53 pm, the Sheriff’s Office received a request for assistance from Flagstaff Police Department regarding missing person Bryon Cole Middlebrook. Mr. Middlebrook had been reported missing earlier that day, and friends located his car in the Arizona Snowbowl parking area. The Sheriff’s Office responded to the Snowbowl area and began investigating his whereabouts. On Sunday, June 26 the Sheriff’s Office ground search for Mr. Middlebrook continued. Arizona DPS Air Rescue helicopter out of Kingman assisted by conducting a fly over search of the area. That day, ground searchers found several items approximately ½ mile north of Hart Prairie lodge; these items were confirmed as belonging to Mr. Middlebrook. The search was resumed on the morning of Monday, June 27, 2016. Additional searchers from Flagstaff Fire Department’s wildland fire / fuels crew and two engines from the Coconino National Forest Wildland Fire crews as well as family and friends amounted to approximately 60 responders looking for Mr. Middlebrook. Around 8:30 am, Mr. Middlebrook was located deceased by a Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team. He appears to have died from self-inflicted injuries.
On June 25, 2016, while Sheriff’s deputies and Search and Rescue personnel were engaged in the West Clear Creek rescue and the missing person search near Snowbowl, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a 911 open line phone call made from the Midgley Bridge area. Sedona Police Department responded and located an unoccupied vehicle parked in the area. Further investigation indicated that the vehicle belonged to a woman in her mid to late forties who intended suicide. Responders tried to locate the woman but due to safety factors had to wait until daylight to continue the search. The following morning, the woman was located deceased below the bridge. State Route 89A at Midgley Bridge was closed temporarily around 9:40 am this morning while Search and Rescue personnel used an artificial high directional rope rescue raising system to recover the woman’s body. Further information about the woman is being withheld until notification of next of kin.