Deputies learned the group, 2 men ages 18 and 21, and an 18-year-old woman, had been stranded for 2 days. They arrived around 5 PM on March 9th and tried crossing the Verde River to access the hot springs. This attempt resulted in the 3 swimmers being swept 250 yards down river due to a strong current. The group was eventually able to swim across, climb onto land, and spend the night in the hot springs to stay warm. They made the smart decision not to attempt a return swim, instead seeking help. Unfortunately, they had no means of electronic communication as their cell phones were left in a vehicle parked on the opposite side of the river. The group also had no food or water with them.
Deputies and Backcountry Unit personnel were able to stage in the area by 630 PM on March 11. Personnel employed technical rescue procedures and worked until 2 AM the next morning bringing the group, one at a time, across the Verde River to safety. We would like to thank these dedicated volunteers willing to risk their own safety to help others.
This incident could have resulted in tragedy - YCSO would like to remind everyone that entering any swift moving water area is extremely dangerous. Flow rates have escalated as the amount of water increases due to recent snow and rain. Even seemingly shallow water areas can be deceiving and dangerous, so use extreme caution while near river or canyon streams. Children walking near the river should be accompanied by an adult. All pedestrians are encouraged to stay on established pathways and trails. Never allow children to play along river ways unattended. Remember, it only takes two feet of water moving at velocity to lift a car and float it down stream.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov