June 2016 file photo of Mercy Medical Air Transport, location not specified | Photo courtesy of Mercy Air Nevada, St. George News
ST. GEORGE —While riding on the Bull Valley Trail, a father and son rolled their utility task vehicle three times when they slipped off the trail and tumbled into a nearby gorge. Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Sgt. Darrell Cashin said they received the dispatch call at 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday after another rider in the group was able to get cell service and call 911.
Once the vehicle came to rest, the father, 51, thought he might have broken his back, so Enterprise Medical Services sent an ambulance along with rescue crews.
“Once we heard there was a possible back injury, we launched Mercy Air,” Cashin said. “They responded in a helicopter, but they were unable to land in that canyon because there were too many gusts of wind. Getting to them was quite difficult. It was either by UTV, or you could do it by truck by going around to the north side and then coming back in, which is what my search and rescue guys had to do.”
When the rescue crews reached the father and son, they strapped the injured passenger onto a backboard and loaded him into the bed of a pickup truck. The driver, who Cashin described as a young adult man in his early 20s, was not seriously injured as a result of the rollover.
Once the man was in the truck, the search and rescue operators began the long, slow process of bringing him out to the ambulance and helicopter. Cashin said that although the route was only about 3 or 4 miles, the trip took several hours due to the conditions of the road and the precautions necessary to avoid injuring the man further.
After an evaluation by the flight crew, the man was ultimately transported by ambulance to St. George Regional Hospital where he was met by his wife. The family and other riders in their group were from Colorado, Cashin said.
Cashin said both passengers were wearing the four-point harness that was standard to the two-seat Yamaha UTV they were riding in. After recovering the injured man, search and rescue operators were able to retrieve the damaged UTV and drive it out of the ravine. The vehicle was inspected at the incident command and ultimately returned to the driver.
“They got it back up to the road. It did have a flat tire, so my guys used some UTV plugs to plug the tire and re-inflate it. It looks like it rolled over a few times – a few dents and dings and scratches. It’s very rocky up there, so I think they were pretty lucky. All I know is it rolled three times, so I’m assuming it was a 15–20-foot ravine.”
Though there hasn’t been an accident requiring search and rescue in that particular area for a couple years, Cashin said that the Bull Valley Trail is narrow and an added measure of caution goes a long way toward preventing serious harm in the event of an accident.
“I would recommend that people don’t drive beyond their abilities,” Cashin said. “Do a little more research. Talk to other people who might have been up in the area you’re going to so you have a better idea what you’re getting into. Wearing the four-point harnesses was very, very smart, or it could have been a lot more tragic.”
This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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