Rescue Helicopter Crashes, Forcing Distressed Hikers to Walk Out of Arizona Wilderness

The pair made it out unharmed after an ordeal in the Pine Mountain Wilderness.

Photo: sierrarat / Getty Images

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Think your last hike was tough? At least you didn’t fall out of the sky in the middle of it.

Last week, two hikers in Arizona’s Pine Mountain Wilderness had themselves an outing to remember. At around 5 p.m. on August 27, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s office dispatched a helicopter to rescue the hikers, who were dehydrated. When the pilot spotted them he landed nearby, gave the hikers water and led them back to the aircraft. 

When the pilot attempted to take off, though, the helicopter lost power. As he attempted to land the aircraft, strong winds pushed it into a rocky, forested area, and the helicopter’s rotor hit a tree. The pilot was able to land the helicopter safely, however, with no injury to himself or his passengers.

Dehydration, a crash; it had already been quite a day for the hikers, but their ordeal wasn’t over yet. The Arizona Department of Public Safety determined that it would not be able to give the hikers and their rescuer another lift out due to the windy weather, so the YCSO pilot guided them on an 8-mile hike to safety—a hefty hike under normal circumstances, and pretty impressive after living through a helicopter crash. 

After the pilot and hikers all made it home safely, Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes praised the job done by the rescue pilot and others involved.

“This highlights for people the danger that the rescuers face themselves when they are rescuing others. Our dedicated teams put their safety in second place when they are out there trying to rescue those in need,” Rhodes said.