Search and rescue uses latest drone technology to rescue injured hiker at Snow Canyon State Park

Southern Utah

IVINS (ABC4 News) – Using the latest drone technology, Washington County Search and Rescue’s high-angle team saved an injured woman this weekend by rappelling more than 400 feet down a cliffside in the popular Snow Canyon State Park.

Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Cashin told ABC4 News the rescue was just one of three his teams responded to Sunday. With the warmer weather coupled with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, first responders said they haven’t had a chance to take a breath.

Around 11:15 a.m. Sunday, rescuers learned a 65-year-old woman slipped and fell, possibly breaking her ankle at the top of a mountain. The victim and her three other friends chose a popular and intricate route for seasoned climbers and canyoneers called Island In The Sky.

Sgt. Cashin said his high-angle team ascended up the mountain, making contact with the group within an hour, and then used a drone to take a rope tag line up to the top, where several responders waited so they could hoist up two 600-foot ropes.

“You know, I’m really proud of my guys’ ingenuity of figuring out, ‘Well, let’s see if the drone can fly it,'” Cashin said. “They’re no huge drones but the weight of it was good and we didn’t have a lot of wind, so it took it right up there with no problem at all.”

Search and rescue teams said they secured their equipment and then rappelled the injured woman 410 feet down the cliffside — and then went back up to reach the other waiting hikers. Sgt. Cashin believes friends of the victim quickly took her to the hospital for treatment.

In total, the rescue took four and a half hours, according to officials. Rescuers said they also responded to two other incidents later that day — assisting an ATV group near La Verkin that got lost as well as a motorcyclist in the Apex Mine area who was separated from his group.

Since January 4th, Washington County Search and Rescue has already responded to 10 calls, so emergency crews said they’re bracing themselves for yet another busy year.

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