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Rangers And National Guard Rescue Distressed Hikers

Bandelier National Monument

National Park News

On Tuesday morning, the Sandoval County 911 center received a cell phone call from a group of hikers in distress in the park’s backcountry. Sandoval County provided Bandelier personnel with the call's GPS coordinates and archaeologist/rangers Heath Bailey and David Shiffler, who were already in the vicinity, immediately responded. The parties in distress – a 15-year-old boy, a 48-year-old woman and a 79-year-old woman – had planned to camp the previous night at Capulin Canyon, where there is a water source, but never made it that far. They’d run out of water several hours earlier and showed signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Bailey and Shiffler provided them with water and began a slow, six-mile hike out with them from Alamo Mesa towards park headquarters. As evening approached, the older woman began to show more serious signs of heat exhaustion, and the decision was made to evacuate her via helicopter. Chief Ranger Tom Betts coordinated the helicopter rescue with the New Mexico State Patrol and the National Guard, and a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter was dispatched to Alamo Canyon. The 78-year-old woman was extricated via short haul and airlifted directly to UNM Medical Center in Albuquerque, where she was treated and is now in stable condition. Rangers Iffy Khan and Paul Weddle hiked in with more provisions for Bailey, Shiffler, and the two remaining hikers. All made it safely to Frijoles Canyon near midnight.


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