TUCSON, Ariz. — A police helicopter rescued about 35 hikers stranded by flooding in a national forest in Arizona — the latest incident in which groups were trapped by flood waters during the state’s rainy season.
The rescue Sunday in a canyon on the outskirts of Tucson took place a week after 17 people were saved after flash flooding through a different canyon several miles away, and 15 days after 10 members of an extended family died in flash flooding along a river.
Those rescued Sunday evening weren’t in immediate danger, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department said.
An Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter was used to ferry out the people who were stranded at a flooded, bridged crossing leading to two popular trails in the Sabino Canyon area.
The National Weather Service had issued a flash flood warning for the canyon and other parts of the Santa Catalina Mountains due to thunderstorms that dropped heavy rain, including 2 inches at a ranger station on Mount Lemmon.
It wasn’t known whether the hikers were already in the canyon when the warning was issued.
The situation was reported to the Sheriff’s Department about 7 p.m. and the rescue was concluded nearly four hours later. Deputy Cody Gress said.
Personnel from the Sheriff’s Department and Southern Arizona Rescue Association assisted as the police helicopter flew several hikers at a time between a landing spot on a canyon road and the parking lot at a visitor center, Gress said.
Nobody was hurt or required medical condition. Authorities decided to use the helicopter partly because one impatient hiker decided to swim across the flood water, Gress said.
That person “just barely made it across. Our concern is we had anxious hikers willing to do that,” he said.