A 63-year-old hiker was rescued Friday at Grand Canyon National Park after he was injured in a fall and his group of friends left him behind to continue their "backpacking adventure," authorities said.
Five friends were backpacking on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park along the Kanab Creek when one of them, a 63-year-old male, fell and suffered a traumatic injury to his shoulder, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue said.
The sheriff’s office received a call for help around 6 p.m. from someone using an Apple device through a satellite connection and dispatched search and rescue crews.
When a rescue helicopter reached the location provided by the Apple device, it was dark with tall canyon walls surrounding Kanab Creek. The chopper could not land in the tight space and was forced to land about a quarter mile from the hiker’s location.
Rescuers then hiked through the creek and difficult terrain to reach the hiker.
The 63-year-old was stabilized and assisted back to the helicopter, which flew him to a Flagstaff hospital for further medical evaluation.
Rescuers learned that the injury had occurred around 2 p.m., and once it was confirmed that the Apple device had contacted rescuers, the other four members of the group left with the device and "continued on their backpacking adventures – leaving the injured hiker behind alone," the sheriff’s office said.
The backpacking group had already been hiking about three or four days and had another three or four days ahead of them, officials said.
Search and rescuers said it was fortunate that the helicopter was able to rescue the injured hiker and encouraged hiking groups to never leave someone behind alone, to ensure that they have been rescued.