Mud makes for tricky rescue after ATV rider flips in Cave Creek

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

CAVE CREEK, Ariz. -- An ATV flipped in a rural area of Cave Creek Wednesday, and muddy conditions from recent rains made the rescue operation very tricky.

It happened near Cave Creek Road and Dynamite Boulevard. The Phoenix Fire Department was able to rescue the rider, but firefighters say this was one of the most intricate rescues they've ever done.

"First of all, it was a real challenge to find out where he was because he could only give us certain landmarks, and then his cellphone kept cutting out," said Capt. Steve Podzielny with the Phoenix Fire Department. "So that was a real challenge."

Once they located the man by air, crews couldn't get to him on the ground.

"Our vehicles couldn't reach him," Podzielny said. "Our four-wheel drive vehicles were getting stuck in the mud. We had a truck stuck and an ambulance, so we had to use a lot of manpower."

They finally had to drop two medics in with the helicopter. When they got to the victim, he was in serious condition but was able to tell them what happened.

"When his back wheels hit mud and water, his ATV stopped and it launched him quite a good distance," Podzielny said.

That's how he got his chest trauma and a fracture to his lower leg.

As night fell, his ATV was still stuck in the mud, and so was a Phoenix police vehicle, which had to be extricated.

"You can see out there it looks dry on top, but once you crack through, it's very muddy," Sgt Stephen Stanowicz said. "The mud may look fun to play in, but folks need to remember it can be dangerous."

He also said that you should always have a cellphone with you.

"If he didn't have his cellphone with him, he may not have been getting out of here," Stanowicz said.

Phoenix police are now looking into whether the victim was actually trespassing in an area where the public is not allowed.

And a side note. Those first responders didn't just have to brave that mud flat, but there were also swarms of mosquitoes in the area. That captain alone had at least 50 bites on his arms.

The injured ATV rider is said to be in stable condition.