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Search and Rescue Locates Missing Hunter

November 3, 2011

From SantanValleyToday.com

Pinal County, AZ--On 11-2-2011, at 9:15 a.m., PCSO dispatch received a call from a concerned citizen who reported her elderly father went hunting yesterday and never returned home.

Deputies responded to the missing 70-year-old man’s residence to confirm he was not there. The daughter informed deputies her father was insulin dependant and did not have any with him. Using information provided on where the elderly man commonly went hunting, deputies focused on searching a 100 square mile area southeast of Florence.

Due to the size and rugged terrain of the search area, PCSO deputy and pilot, Andrew Wikstrom was asked to fly the area using the Sheriff’s Office Piper Super Cab aircraft.

Depty Wikstrom began his search northeast of Highway 79 and Ranch Road.
Approximately eight miles east of highway 79, Wikstrom spotted a white, Dodge pickup truck parked on the side of a hill.

PCSO Search and Rescue units on the ground were able to locate the truck and confirmed it belonged to the missing hunter. S&R could see footprints leading from the truck to a remote desert road.

Wikstrom flew the desert road east for approximately 3-4 miles before spotting a man walking alone. As Wikstrom flew closer, the man waived both arms and began jumping as to signal the airplane.

Wikstrom guided ground units to the elderly man who received medical attention at the scene and was treated for dehydration by EMS certified deputies.

The fixed wing PCSO airplane was obtained recently using funds through a federal grant provided by Homeland Security.

Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “Using assets provided through generous funding, a man’s life was saved today. Pinal County is larger in square miles than three states in the U.S., demonstrating a clear need for air support through our fixed wing airplane and a newly purchased helicopter; both were free to Pinal County through state and federal grants.”

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