PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Fire Department staged a tricky rescue at Piestewa Peak on Wednesday afternoon.
A 31-year-old man was hiking off trail in a remote area of the park. He was unable to walk after falling and hurting his leg.
“I was off trail. I was being stupid and just fell off a cliff,” the hiker told 3TV as he was strapped to a gurney and loaded into an ambulance.
Even with a chopper, it took crews hours to get the hiker off the mountain. Rescuers found him on a steep incline.
“We had to set up some rope systems to be able to lower him down to an area where we could put him in a big wheel and big wheel him to a landing zone area,” said Capt. Jonathan Jacobs, Phoenix Fire Department.
That landing zone was still a mile from where the hiker was originally found.
“If you’re in an area where you get yourself hurt and it takes the fire department 30 to 40 minutes to get to you where you’re at, and then take them three hours to get you out, you’re probably in a place you shouldn’t be,” said Jacobs.
Normally crews would use a helicopter from which they can drop a line, attach the victim and lift the person away quickly. However, that chopper is out of service right now.
Phoenix fire said the rescue is an example of why hiking off trail isn’t a great idea.
“These mountains are advanced, they’re extremely advanced in the summer time... they’re full of loose shale, rocks, they’re steep, they’re hard, everywhere you go there’s a potential injury,” said Jacobs.
The hiker was taken to the hospital to get checked out.