SEDONA, Arizona (KPHO/KTVK) — It looked like a scene right out of an action movie.
An Arizona National Guard rescue team flying in to save three stranded hikers Tuesday, above the Haribo Canyon in Sedona. All three hikers were visiting from out-of-town.
Scott Brand and his wife Crystal were visiting Arizona from Arkansas. They had gone out Sunday morning to do some rock climbing and repelling, when the weather rolled in and they couldn’t get out.
“The worst part was definitely our feet,” said Scott. “We had only the same wet socks on the whole time. I was concerned about frost bite and losing a foot.”
The hikers had spent more than 48 hours in the freezing cold, with barely any food and very little water.
On Wednesday, members of the Arizona National Guard explained how they flew into the canyon on their UH-60 Black Hawk chopper, repelled down and airlifted the hikers out.
The wind, ice and snow made the mission more difficult, but they were determined to get the hikers to safety.
“In any one of these rescue situations, as time goes down, the chances of a successful recovery go down significantly,” said Staff Sgt. Karl Evans. “The faster you get out, the faster you get into a warm ambulance and better off they are.”
Scott said they only planned to be out about four to six hours, but the weather got bad sooner than expected, leaving them stranded. The Brands ended up spending two nights huddled up by the side of the mountain, until rescuers were able to get them out.
“They looked very exhausted,” said Sgt. Jonathan Atcitty. “They were all showing signs of cold weather. They seemed thrilled to get inside the aircraft, at that point.”
The National Guard members also had to fly out a four-man rescue team that had gone in to save the hikers.
“We’re definitely thankful the outcome was what it was, it could have been worse,” said Brand. “Seeing that crew chief leaning out of the helicopter, waving down to us, was the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
Scott said the hikers suffered some minor injuries, but should be OK.
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