Canyoneer Falls 150 Feet in Branch of Oak Creek Canyon

I hope Mr. McEntire emerges healthy and whole. 150 feet seems like an incredibly long way to fall, but a couple accidents over the past few years (a 100-foot free-fall in Pine Creek, a long “free-slide”in Englestead) have shown people can survive and even thrive after such dramatic incidents. Sliding (incredibly quickly) down a rope must be better than a free-fall, and sometimes a big, fat backpack can do incredible magic in softening a fall. Best wishes to Mike in his recovery.

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Rescuers rappel eight times and swim three crossings to reach fallen canyoneer
All 2400-feet of rappelling rope in service for high-profile rescue near Sedona, AZ

Rescuers had to rappel eight times and swim three crossings to reach a fallen canyoneer in the West Fork area of Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, AZ. The Canyoneer was critically injured after falling 450 feet while rappelling on the afternoon of Saturday August 13, 2011.

Although Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a report of the critically injured fall victim that afternoon, the remote and rugged canyon held onto its victim until the next day. It took over 36 hours for Coconino County Search and Rescue personnel — assisted by several other rescuers — to reach and safely extricate the fall victim from the canyon.

Mike McEntire, a 36 year old male from Payson, AZ was with a group of friends canyoneering in a slot canyon of West Fork. Friends reported that McIntire was on a 350-foot rappel when the accident happened. On the last 150 feet of that rappel, the Canyoneer failed to maintain control and speed and fell 100 feet striking rock and then fell another 40 feet. McEntire who suffered serious head and internal injuries and a possible fractured pelvis ended up approximately 1800 feet below the rim of the canyon.

Fortunately, two members of the Coconino County Search and Rescue Technical Rescue were able to reach the fall victim prior to midnight. Due to the extreme terrain of the canyon and technical aspects of the rappel, the rescuers had approximately 2400 foot of rappelling rope in service, and the rescuers required eight rappels and three swims to reach the victim. Rescue workers remained with the severely injured McEntire throughout the night until his extrication at 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday morning, a helicopter was called to the scene, but due to the location of the victim and the terrain, the helicopter was unable to perform a short haul of the patient. It took several hours, and several rescuers to mechanically raise McEntire 450-500 feet back up the canyon to where a Department of Public Safety helicopter could complete the short haul operation. The patient was then flown by Native Air to John C. Lincoln Hospital in Deer Valley, a suburb of Phoenix, AZ.

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About Nick

Nick Wilkes found ZAC in 1996, working first as an outfitter, then a guide, then as webmaster. An ardent adventure enthusiast, Nick's recent exploits involve laying down roots in Wisconsin, chasing his kids around the house, working as a Madison, WI photographer and growing his Wisconsin climbing business. Connect with Nick on Facebook, Google+, or directly via email.
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