Hiker located in little over an hour by SSAR

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 The News

APACHE JUNCTION – What teams of rescuers from four counties including horse riders, rescue dogs and an aircraft were unable to accomplish in five days was quickly done by the highly trained volunteers of Superstition Search and Rescue in a little over an hour.

The body of a middle-aged man, believed to be missing hiker Kelly Tate, 53, was located around 6 p.m. Tuesday, September 15, 2009 by three members of SSAR, just 200 yards from Tate’s abandoned motorcycle, still within the boundaries of Lost Dutchman State Park and mere hours after Pinal County authorities announced that they would be scaling back their search.

Rescue teams from Pinal, Pima, Gila and Maricopa Counties, the state and Sonoran Search and Rescue began looking for Tate Thursday evening September 10, 2009 when he failed to return home from a hike at Lost Dutchman State Park Thursday morning. From 60 to 150 searchers were working on a 24 hour basis reportedly focused on a 28-square-mile area in the Superstition Wilderness. Pinal County announced just this afternoon that they would scale down to a crew of approximately 10 individuals to work on a reduced search schedule.

Tate, originally from Mesa and working in China, was in the area visiting family. He was reportedly an experienced hiker so when he failed to return from his hike Thursday afternoon. Superstition Search and Rescue was contacted by a friend of the family and quickly located Tate’s motorcycle in the parking lot. SSAR contacted the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office who took over the search and told SSAR that their help would not be needed.

Though they were not included in the official search, SSAR sent individual team members to Lost Dutchman State Park on a training exercise Tuesday afternoon in an effort to assist the family. The SSAR members began their training search around 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 and located the body by 6 p.m.

SSAR has never failed to find an individual they have searched for. Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) is a volunteer service organization that assists individuals who experience wilderness-related problems in the Superstition Wilderness Area.

SSAR is made up of approximately 25 volunteers who are highly skilled in wilderness first-aid, technical rescue, orienteering and tracking who sacrifice their time and personal resources to assist those in need. SSAR relies on donations from individuals and/or corporations and fund-raising activities to support the training and equipment needed to continue serving individuals who find themselves in a situation in which they require assistance. All donations are tax deductible and no matter what the amount, provide the group with valuable equipment and resources necessary to do their job – saving lives.

If you would like to donate to the unsung heroes of Superstition Search & Rescue, please send a check or money order payable to SSAR, P.O. Box 1123, Apache Junction, AZ 85217. For more information on SSAR or to make on online donation visit SSAR at http://www.superstitionsar.org.