A Moab man was injured and had to spend the night in the cold after ice fishing in the Mill Creek drainage area on Monday, Jan. 21.
Grand County Search and Rescue crews were able to rescue Kenneth Knight, age 70, Tuesday morning and transport him to Moab Regional Hospital for treatment for a lower leg injury.
Knight and Vereald Dickerson hiked the Mill Creek drainage from the Highland Drive area in Spanish Valley on Monday afternoon. One went upstream and the other went downstream to fish.
Later in the day, Dickerson returned to his vehicle at the trailhead and was unable to make contact with Knight.
A friend who is a member of Grand County Search and Rescue was called to help locate Knight.
Search and Rescue members entered the drainage from three different locations to find Knight.
“The cold temperatures were of primary concern,” said Search and Rescue commander Jim Webster. Webster said that they were also concerned about the age of the subject and the fact that it appeared that he did not have any light, or a fire starter, and was wearing inadequate clothing.
Classic Lifeguard also flew the drainage in an effort to find Knight. A second helicopter, from the Department of Public Safety, was also called to assist in the search.
Fishing gear was found near a large pool in Mill Creek. The pool was probed to see if Knight may have fallen in.
Search and rescue members finally heard Knight’s calls for help.
“After we were able to locate him through his cries for help, there were still access issues,” Webster said.
Rescuers discovered that he had hiked east from the area of the creek where he was fishing and had fallen into a crevice between two sandstone fins.
“It was very narrow at the bottom so one could not ‘walk right up’ to him. The first two team members to the location had to ‘chimney’ the final approximately 100 feet to him,” Webster said.
The first team of search and rescue members were able to reach him by 2:30 a.m., Tuesday.
“Other team members accessed him via rope from an adjacent fin, approximately 150 down,” Webster said.
Knight was raised to that level, then the Department of Public Safety helicopter did a “one-skid” landing while crews loaded him into the helicopter with an Emergency Medical Technician to be taken to the ambulance.
A one-skid landing isn’t really a landing, Webster said. It is where the helicopter remains stable with one skid on the rock.
The rescue was completed by 9:30 a.m., Tuesday. Knight was flown to the Grand County Emergency Operations Center in Spanish Valley, then transported by Grand County Emergency Medical Services to Moab Regional Hospital.
Webster appreciated the use of the helicopters during the rescue.
“The DPS helicopter landed a technical team on top a fin nearby, then team members had to rapell down a 200-plus sloping cliff to the location where we actually did the raising operation, which was another 150-feet,” Webster said.
“If we had not been able to use a helicopter, the operation would have taken many more hours because of the access problem,” Webster said.
This is the third incident for Grand County Search and Rescue this year. However, it is the first rescue, as the other missions were called off before the team was mobilized.
Helicopters search over Mill Creek alerted residents
“After we were able to locate him through his cries for help, there were still access issues.”