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Kane County Search and Rescue utilizes new equipment to locate two lost hikers

On March 24, 2024, Kane County Sheriff’s Office, (KCSO), was notified of potential overdue hikers in the Wire Pass area near Buckskin Gulch. KCSO Deputies learned that a vehicle was rented by two male Japanese visitors that had acquired a day permit to the Wave located near Wire Pass on March 23. Kane County Sheriff Search and Rescue, (KCSAR), was notified and responded to Wire Pass trailhead. KCSO contacted Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau, (DPS), to assist in the search. It was learned that guides from the day before had seen the two males near the Wave that visibly seemed to be struggling. One guide offered extra supplies, (food, water, etc.), because they appeared to be not prepared for the weather nor the terrain.

Photo courtesy of KCSO.

Shortly after arriving on scene, DPS spotted an individual off trail waving to them. DPS landed, made contact with this person and found him to be one of the missing hikers. DPS transported this individual back to the trailhead to be assessed. It was quickly realized that there was a language barrier and very difficult to communicate with him. Translation apps and interpreters were used to gather information from the hiker. KCSAR learned that prior to the hikers being separated, they stayed warm throughout the evening by keeping their heart rate up by doing exercises. The individual stated that at one point he knelt down to tie his shoe and after getting up, realized his friend was gone. The hiker was later assessed by Big Water EMT’s and released.

Search and Rescue personnel located boot tracks for both individuals prior to them separating. They were able to follow both down into the Wire Pass drainage but soon lost the tracks due to the high volume of hikers in that area. KCSAR and DPS continued to search throughout the evening but were unable to locate the second hiker.

The next morning, March 25, Kane County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Bureau of Land Management personnel and DPS responded to Wire Pass to continue the search. Search teams comprised of KCSAR and BLM personnel continued to land search while DPS provided air support for the operation. Earlier that morning, it was decided to send a KCSAR search team down the Buckskin Gulch beginning at the Buckskin Gulch trailhead. Approximately halfway between the Buckskin Gulch trailhead and the Wire Pass confluence, searchers located the second missing hiker. The hiker was sitting near the wash. At first searchers had to approach him and ask if he was lost. At this point one searcher showed him a picture of him off his phone and told him, “you’re the reason we’re here!” Searchers stated that the only thing he could communicate was, “cold.”

DPS responded to that location and transported him to an ambulance out of Big Water stationed just off Highway 89 and House Rock Valley Road.

During the search, KCSO located the individuals’ phones and wallets located in their rental vehicle. This area does not have ideal cell phone reception but in case of an emergency it is encouraged to keep your cell phone with you. Many phones are now equipped with SOS satellite capabilities that could prevent you and your loved ones from being hurt or killed.

Kane County Sheriff Search and Rescue recently received a grant for motorcycles to help assist searchers during operations such as these. This was the first SAR operation that this equipment was utilized and helped locate the second hiker.

Kane County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the many individuals and agencies that helped make this a successful search: Kane County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau, Bureau of Land Management and Big Water EMS.




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