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Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue Helicopter Rescues Elderly Couple From Swollen River in Southern Arizona

DPS Response Came at The Request of The Gila County Sheriff’s Department

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 -

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On March 10, 2013, the DPS Air Rescue Helicopter in Tucson responded to the Tonto Creek area near Punkin Center at the request of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office. A full sized Ford F150 quad cab had been driven into the swollen creek and was reportedly floating down stream with two elderly occupants. The crew arrived on the scene to find the truck and male victim sitting in the driver’s side window. The elderly male’s condition was worsening as he was getting colder in the snow melt runoff. The helicopter was positioned over the bed of the truck and a DPS Paramedic was inserted into the cargo bed. The female victim was assisted into the helicopter as it hovered over the fast flowing water, next to the truck. The Paramedic then accessed the male victim after breaking the rear window of the truck. A rescue ring was placed around the victim and a rope lowered. The male victim was short hauled from the window opening some 50 yards to the shore. Both victims were turned over to the care of the Tonto Basin Fire Department. Agencies involved in assisting in the rescue included the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, the Tonto Basin Fire Department, and the U.S. Forest Service.


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The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a state-level law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity and providing vital support to the State of Arizona and its citizens.