DPS helicopter locates lost Mt. Graham hikers

A DPS Ranger helicopter like this one spotted and extracted a missing hiking family.

By Jon Johnson


MOUNT GRAHAM – A family of hikers who became lost during a destination jaunt down Ash Creek were rescued on July 16 when they were spotted by an Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger.

According to a Graham County Sheriff’s Office report, a couple and their daughter were dropped off the morning of July 15 at about 7 a.m. in the area of the Old Columbine corrals. The family intended to hike from Old Columbine down Ash Creek to Berry Patch Road. 

However, the family became lost on their journey and had to make camp for the night. The hikers reportedly were equipped with food and water for the hike, but their family last heard from them on the evening of July 15 at about 7 p.m. 

Authorities were alerted of the missing family the next morning at about 10:26 a.m., and Graham County Search and Rescue split into two teams to look for the hikers. One team began at Old Columbine and the other began on the other side with Ash Creek and Berry Patch Road as a containment border. Due to the expansive and rugged area, a DPS Ranger was called to assist in the search. 

The Ranger located the three missing hikers during an aerial reconnaissance of the area. They were extracted and flown back to the SAR command post that was set up at the entrance of the Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area. The hikers were in good health and were reunited with their family at the command post.