Gila National Forest, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico State Police were dispatched to the Gila National Forest on October 8, 2022, for a Boy Scout troop that was trapped due to flash flood waters. A total of 25 people had to be rescued that day.
Rescue Hoist Operator Kurtus Tenorio with New Mexico State Police said the whole operation took them 17 hours to complete.
“We had kind of a rough time getting in there, whether it was a pretty big challenge, we had to kind of overcome,” said Tenorio, “We knew that the threat of the water rising and washing these people away was a serious danger, so it was our priority just to get them out of that area as fast as possible.”
New Mexico State Police received the call early in the morning last Saturday. The Boy Scout troop of 16 kids and nine adults had become trapped in the Gila National Forest. Rushing water around them, forming almost a triangle shape island, causing them to call for help.
State Police’s helicopter had no place to land and with the fast-rising river, so they sent crews down and harnessed the kids up hoisting them into the hovering chopper.
“Kids were jumping up and down; high fives hugs for everyone. You know, they were extremely excited that we had found them, and we’re starting to pull them,” Tenorio said.
The troop was airlifted to the Gila Cliff Dwellings Visitor Center where they were reunited with their families. No one was injured. In total, State Police we out on this rescue for 17.5 hours. The New Mexico National Guard also helped with the mission.
New Mexico State Police is reminding people to be prepared and check the weather before heading into the wilderness and to have a way to communicate in case they do need help.