VIDEO RELEASE: Air and Marine Operations Black Hawk Rescue from the Huachuca Mountains

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3 mins read
Editors note: click on photo for video.
Editors note: click on photo for video.

Sierra Vista, Ariz. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO) extracted a seasoned hiker suffering from injuries sustained in a fall, high in the Huachucha Mountains.

On March 16, 2022, the Arizona Air Coordination Center (A2C2) received a request for assistance rescuing a female hiker who had activated an Emergency Locator Beacon on the Lutz Canyon Trail / Arizona Trail in the Huachuca Mountains (N31 23.083, W110 17.809) with a possible broken ankle who was alone and out of water. Cochise County Search and Rescue personnel were responding but were at least two hours out from making contact. An Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger (Public Safety helicopter) was unable to rescue the hiker due to high winds averaging 30 knots and her position at an altitude of approximately 8,300 feet.

At approximately 2:00 p.m. the A2C2 called CBP AMO Tucson Air Branch to see if a UH-60 Black Hawk was available to attempt the rescue.  An AMO Black Hawk launched and was on scene by 4:30 p.m. Upon arrival, given the terrain and winds, the crew took extra time to find the best place to insert two Rescue Specialists. After establishing a hover approximately 200 feet above the ground, the crew inserted the Rescue Specialists via hoist who medically evaluated the patient.  The Rescue Specialists realized that a litter extraction may not be possible because the aircraft would not be able to get low enough to support the line to keep the litter stable.  A Rescue Specialist a certified EMT performed a brief medical assessment and the patient stated that she could walk but not very far. Due to the shifting winds, it was necessary for the Rescue Specialists to move the hiker to another location to safely airlift her from the mountain. The hiker was packaged in an air rescue vest, hoisted back into the helicopter, and transported to Cochise County Search and Rescue personnel several miles away.

AMO UH-60 Black Hawk
AMO UH-60 Black Hawk

“Air and Marine aircrews are highly trained and experienced in performing these challenging types of rescues,” said Director, Tucson Air Branch, Michael Montgomery. “Despite the environmental challenges posed by the high altitude and gusting winds our crews safely provided initial medical care and relocated this patient to a higher level of care.”

AMO safeguards our Nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With federal agents and mission support personnel, aircraft, and marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond the border, and within the nation’s interior.