IVINS, Utah (ABC4 News) — The Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue crews say they saved a lost hiker and his 80-pound dog after they got stuck on a cliffside along the strenuous Red Mountain Trail early Monday morning — resulting in a five-hour rescue that deputies say was unfortunately endangered by someone in the community.
An exceptionally challenging 10-mile hike in the wilderness with no signs, the Red Mountain Trail is not recommended for anyone without back-country or off-trail experience. A 38-year-old man visiting from California, who deputies say had researched the trail online, started at the trailhead off of SR-18 near Dammeron Valley Sunday morning, according to officials, and had hiked all day. But, when he came off the mountain just north of Ivins, search and rescue teams say he got “ledged-out.”
“He said he was following footprints, but it took him down the face of the Red Mountain where you cannot get off without ropes,” Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Cashin said.
Deputies say the technical and dangerous rescue started at 7:30 p.m. Sunday when the man called the police for help and quickly ran out of water. Rescuers came from the Ivins access and hiked about an hour to get to them; then, they hiked down the face of the cliff in the dark wearing headlamps to meet them. That’s when they say someone started shining a bright, high-powered blue laser directly on them.
“We were quite upset about it,” Cashin said. “You happen to look up at it and it could blind you because it’s that bright. When you’re hanging off the side or climbing down the cliff, that could cause an injury.”
The sheriff’s office called in the Ivins-City Police Department to attempt to track down who was shining the laser, but officers were unable to.
As the SAR teams got close, they used the drone with its spotlight to lead the team down the best access to connect up with the lost hiker and his dog. When rescuers reached them, they gave them water and supplies and guided them back up as more crews hauled ropes and more gear.
Emergency crews say the rescue went slowly mainly because the dog would sit and bark each time he got to a spot he didn’t want to go down.
“He was kind of letting them know, I don’t like this! I don’t want to do this!” Cashin said. “Then they’d kind of have to force him to do it with the help of his owner.”
By 12:30 a.m. Monday, the dog and his owner reunited with their family at the incident command in good health.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about the laser incident to contact Sgt. Cashin directly.