Hikers rescued in Superstition Mountains

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. -- A search for two hikers lost in the Superstition Mountains ended successfully Friday night. Maricopa County Sheriff’s rescue teams managed to locate them just before nightfall.

The man and woman set out Wednesday morning and expected to return Thursday, according to MCSO. A day long search on Friday ended before 8 p.m.

“The biggest problem is people don’t have a plan,” said Mountain Rescue Operations Chief David Bremson. “They don’t stick to a plan, and they don’t tell anyone where they’re going.”

Bremson’s volunteer rescue team goes on dozens of missions each year. The Superstition Mountains are considered a trouble spot, between the steep, rugged terrain, and the lure of the legend behind the “Lost Dutchman’s Gold.”

“We have done more body recoveries of people looking for the Lost Dutchman’s gold than any other thing we’ve done,” said Bremson.

As the summer months approach, search and rescue crews expect calls to spike. They urge hikers to carry the “12 essentials,” including a map, sun protection, extra clothing, a flashlight, first aid, a repair kit, extra food, extra water, emergency shelter, a whistle, GPS and a headlamp.

“Truly, it’s a life or death outcome,” said Bremson.

He told 3TV the chances of survival increase exponentially if hikers stop, once lost. He also urges hikers to signal for help by waving your arms or blowing a whistle. He said helicopter pilots or search crews have a much better chance of spotting motion. That’s also the reason for wearing a head lamp at night.

“We use night vision goggles on our helicopters, and we can see you from 10, 15 miles away if you even have the smallest of headlamps. In the daytime they can even be used to signal,” said Bremson.

Many of the search and rescue personnel are volunteers, donating their service and expertise, at no cost to the hiker.

“We are out here on our own expense, and on our own time,” Bremson. “We do not bill for search and rescue; we will never bill for search and rescue. It’s a service we provide for the community, and it’s a necessary service."