Kayaker rescued from Verde River

NEAR CAMP VERDE – A novice kayaker, thrown from her boat, was rescued from the Verde River Sunday, Sept. 25, thanks to a family member who called for help when she didn’t show up at her pick-up point.

The kayaker, a 46-year-old woman, had little experience and didn’t know the river well, Yavapai County Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said.

She planned to put it upstream of the West Clear Creek intersection and would travel to Beasley Flats, where family members would pick her up.

She had very little in the way of provisions – some water, trail mix, sunflower seeds, and a beer – but did have a cell phone.

When the woman did not get to the end point by dark, her sister called 911.

She would not answer the phone, but tracking suggested that she was well past Beasley Flats in an area known for steep drops.

Yavapai County Search and Rescue Team members were dispatched, as was a Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter.

“While staged at the Beasley Flats, a deputy and some family members began hearing a female voice yelling for help downstream,” D’Evelyn said. “The helicopter and search team converged on the area and just before 11 p.m, the Ranger crew located the kayaker and found a spot nearby to land safely.”

The helicopter airlifted her back to the staging area, where she told deputies that she’d floated past the pickup point and, confused, kept paddling downstream.

“At one point she was thrown from her boat and lost her cell phone in the water. She made it to shore and while walking to seek help, heard the helicopter overhead and called out,” D’Evelyn said.

D’Evelyn credited the sister’s timely 911 call with the successful save, because, “as the likelihood of a successful rescue increases the sooner search teams are deployed.”

The kayaker was not seriously hurt.