CBP helicopter pulls Australian man from snowy mountains in Cochise County
A helicopter crew with U.S. Customs and Border Protection extricated a hiker last week from snowy conditions in the Huachuca Mountains south of Sierra Vista, officials said.
On Feb. 24, Cochise County Sheriff's Office deputies asked for help searching for the hiker—a man from Australia—who was stuck in Arizona's mountainous terrain in freezing temperatures on Thursday, said a CBP spokesman.
Weather kept the crew from launching their rescue on Thursday evening, however, on Friday morning the Tucson Air Branch—part of CBP's Air and Marine Operations—launched a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.
CCSO said the hiker attempted to hike along the Arizona Trail in the Miller Peak wilderness, about 65 miles southeast of Tucson, and lost his shoe in the snow. CCSO said a an Arizona Department of Public Safety chopper made their own attempt at a rescue on Thursday, but high winds and cloud coverage halted the effort. The hiker had enough supplies, and officials decided to have him bivouac and wait for a rescue at daybreak.
The AMO crew located the hiker and used a hoist to bring the man up into the helicopter. The crew flew him to awaiting deputies and emergency personnel for evaluation, CBP officials said.
Video published by the agency showed a AMO agent descending on a cable to the hiker and later bringing both men into the aircraft hovering above a field of snowy trees.
"Our crews are the best at what they do. They are highly skilled and go above and beyond to ensure the best outcomes for everyone they encounter,” said Norman Montgomery, director of the Tucson Air Branch. "This could have been a tragic fatal outcome if not for the diligence of the agents."
AMO manages fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, drones and ships along the nation's land borders and coasts.
AMO agents have rescued 60 people this fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2022, CBP officials said. During the fiscal year of 2021, the agency rescued 233 people in the Tucson Sector—which runs from Yuma County to the Arizona-New Mexico border—and across the U.S.-Mexico border, CBP officials rescued 12,857 people during the same period, according to agency statistics.