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SSAR Receives CERT Training

15 members will join Urban Search and Rescue Team

Apache Junction News

Fifteeen members of the Superstition Search and Rescue team recently graduated from CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training, which brings the organization’s total to 25, with an additional 22 members in training.

The 15 members will now join the newly formed Urban Search and Rescue Team.

“A CERT team is a nationally recognized volunteer emergency response team made up of individuals who have received specific training in disaster response,” said Commander Robert Cooper.

“These individuals assist both local and national emergency responders in the event of a major disaster event. The training these individuals receive is recognized by Homeland Security and FEMA and serves to equip the team members with the skills to determine what services are needed and what actions should be taken to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. Whether a disaster is man-made or natural, CERT teams are trained to mobilize immediately to save lives and offer immediate help to victims.”

Cooper said thanks to the dedication of his group’s members, its partnership with the Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD) and the continued support from the community, SSAR will be one of the most well-equipped urban rescue teams in the states. It is also a few steps shy of being recognized as a National Response Team, which can be called upon to assist in rescues nationwide.

While disaster preparedness is at the heart of the CERT program, the SSAR Urban Response Team will also use its skills to assist the AJPD and community in other areas such as cold cases, lost children and adults, local emergencies and more.

Superstition Search and Rescue recently celebrated 15 of its members finishing CERT training. Those with the training are wearing bright yellow vests.

SSAR also continues to provide the community with the highly skilled wilderness rescue services for which they are renowned.

The Apache Junction Police Department welcomes this additional help and values the partnership of such a well-trained, nationally recognized Community Emergency Response Team.

“It is in times of emergencies when you need to draw on all available resources to help mitigate what has occurred,” said AJPD Police Chief Jerald Monahan. “Having well-trained, dedicated volunteers are a huge asset and valuable resource that any community can benefit from.”

SSAR has helped the AJPD with a number of missing person cases, including the case of the kidnapped 2-year-old girl that occurred last year. The result was a successful rescue and a long prison sentence for the offender.

SSAR is a private volunteer service organization dedicated to wilderness and urban search and rescue in Arizona since 1981. The members are trained in urban rescue, CERT and are highly skilled in wilderness first aid, technical rescue and orienteering.

SSAR does not charge for these life-saving services as members sacrifice their personal time and resources to assist those in need, Cooper said. SSAR operates a 24/7 emergency hotline at (480) 620-0299 for those needing assistance.

In addition to the achievement, SSAR received a “general donation” from an unnamed Gold Canyon resident for equipment to outfit its expanding team.

SSAR relies on donations from individuals and/or corporations and fund-raising activities to support the training and equipment they need to continue serving individuals who find themselves in situations in which they require assistance. All donations are tax deductible. To donate, send a check or money order payable to SSAR to P.O. Box 1123, Apache Junction, AZ 85217.

For more information on SSAR or to make an online donation, visit www.superstitionsar.org.

SSAR Expands Services to Include Urban Rescue

Gold Canyon Today

Not just your usual Search and Rescue anymore; the New Year has brought organizational changes and additional services that will position SSAR to be a multi-faceted search and rescue organization uniquely equipped to provide both wilderness and urban search and rescue services.

“We are now governed by an Administrative Board and we have two search and rescue teams; Wilderness and Urban” said former SSAR Commander Robert Cooper; now Director of Urban SAR. “The change (in structure) is due to our expansion into Urban SAR,” explained Cooper, who added that they already have 15 Urban SAR trained members and expect to have another 20 trained in the next couple of months.

The SSAR restructuring has resulted in the formation of an Administrative Board of Directors consisting of Director Richard Wilson, Treasurer James Ballard, Secretary Joyce Wilson and Resource Officer Eileen Tremonti. Former SSAR Commander Robert Cooper will take on the position of Urban SAR Director and Mike Wallace will be the director of the Wilderness SAR team.

Over their nearly thirty years of service to the community, SSAR has received local and national recognition for their life-saving achievements. While the working relationship that SSAR had for decades with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has ceased; SSAR is now working closely with the Apache Junction Police Department to expand their search and rescue services to include an Urban SAR team.

The Urban SAR team will combine their previous wilderness search and rescue skills with their Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training to assist in urban related issues such as “cold cases”, lost children and adults, urban disaster issues and more.

The Homeland Security and FEMA recognized CERT training provides these individuals with the skills to determine what immediate services will be needed following a major disaster, thereby equipping them to make life decisions regarding rescuer safety and also what actions will provide the greatest good for the greatest number. CERT trained individuals are uniquely skilled to organize and mobilize teams to offer immediate help to victims while assisting first responders until professional services arrive.

CERT trained individuals can assist in any type of disaster; man-made or natural, such as the recent earthquake in Haiti where CERT trained individuals are already working in a coordinated, cohesive effort to save lives and provide survivors with necessities.

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) is a volunteer service organization that assists individuals who experience wilderness-related and urban related problems. The members are highly skilled in wilderness first-aid, technical rescue, orienteering, urban rescue techniques and do not charge for these life-saving services. They sacrifice their personal time and resources to assist those in need and operate a 24/7 rescue hotline at 480-620-0299 for those needing assistance.

SSAR relies on donations from individuals and/or corporations and fund-raising activities to support the training and equipment they need 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 https://superstitionsar.org.

SSAR Delivers

By Jill Jones
Gold Canyon Today

Rescue equipment and medical supplies were loaded into vehicles by Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) members who then made a three-hour trip to Mexico to deliver the much needed cargo to Officer Jesse Rodriguez, who is working to organize a search and rescue team in Mexico.

Rodriguez, a law enforcement officer and canine handler in Mexico is working with Cruz Roja (Mexican Red Cross) and their coordinator, Enrique Enriquez, to develop a trained search and rescue team.

Rodriguez contacted SSAR a few years back seeking information on dog handling and search and rescue training. That initial contact sparked a long-distance relationship between SSAR members and Rodriguez. Even though SSAR is a self-supporting, all-volunteer organization; team members took on the challenge of helping their counterpart in Mexico.

SSAR volunteer Joyce Wilson worked tirelessly to obtain a grant for Rodriguez to attend a dog-handling course, only to be told that Rodriguez would not be able attend because he is not a U.S. citizen. This set-back took a toll on Rodriguez, who was so disappointed that he considered giving up on his dream of organizing a rescue team. Wilson eventually convinced Rodriguez to persevere and she and SSAR became an integral component in Rodriguez’s quest.

On Wednesday, December 30, 2009 members of Superstition Search and Rescue met with members of Rodriguez’s team, presenting them with backpacks, boots, medical supplies, tents, ropes and more so that the Mexico team can provide life saving services in their country.

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) is a volunteer service organization that assists individuals who experience wilderness-related problems in the Superstition Wilderness Area. The members are highly skilled in wilderness first-aid, technical rescue, orienteering and do not charge for these life-saving services. They sacrifice their personal time and resources to assist those in need and operate a 24/7 rescue hotline at 480-620-0299 for those needing assistance.

SSAR relies on donations from individuals and/or corporations and fund-raising activities to support the training and equipment they need 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 https://superstitionsar.org

SSAR Finds Body in San Tan Valley Canal

Gold Canyon Today

Superstition Search and Rescue came to the aid of a family in need, by helping them find the body of a missing loved one.


According to Public Information Officer Lt. Tamatha Villar, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) was contacted by a San Tan Valley woman who’s boyfriend had never returned home New Year’s Eve. Sources say that the man had been drinking at the Gym Grill and Bar and had decided to walk home. Officers responded to the call but could not find the man. On Jan. 2, officers canvassing the canal near where he was last seen found his hat and a shoe.

After the personal items were found the PCSO drug the canal with hooks but were hampered by the fact that their search and rescue posse did not have the equipment or training to drag the canal. The man’s family contacted Superstition Search and Rescue who responded, dragged the canal and recovered his body at approximately noon on Jan. 3.

Search and Rescue Receives State Commendation

By Jill Jones
Gold Canyon Today

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) held their annual Christmas party on December 5, 2009 at the Gold Canyon Golf Resort where SSAR Commander Robert Cooper announced that he had been called to the State Capitol on Tuesday December 1 at which time he was presented with a joint commendation for SSAR from the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate for SSAR’s contribution to the citizens of Arizona.

The commendation was signed by Senator Thayer Verchoor District 22 and Representative Laurin Hendrix District 22, which read as follows:

We do commend and congratulate Superstition Search & Rescue. Your 30 years of service to the citizens of Arizona is a remarkable achievement. Your hard work and dedication on behalf of others is deeply appreciated. The Arizona House of Representatives and State Senate commends you for your service.

This is a time of change for SSAR who for the past 30 years has worked in conjunction with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) and is now in the process of reorganizing the team and will no longer be affiliated with the sheriff’s office. Instead, SSAR will be broadening their capabilities to include urban search and rescue in addition to the skilled wilderness search and rescue services they have provided in the past.

In this new, broadened capacity SSAR will be using their skills to search for children and adult individuals who are reported lost; have been abducted; or are suffering from medical, physical or mental challenges; in addition to wilderness search and rescue. To achieve this goal, SSAR is seeking to partner with the Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD) to provide these expanded services to area residents and will be meeting with the AJPD command staff on Tuesday in hopes of finalizing an agreement.

After a wonderful dinner of Prime Rib, chicken and sides, Commander Cooper gave a recap of the top 10 rescues out of their 60 for the year, not counting the approximately 130 assists or walk-outs they participated in this past year – including the attempted rescue of a horse, that despite heroic efforts, eventually succumbed to exposure in the desert.

Unbeknownst to Cooper, or the rest of the SSAR team, VIP guest Curt Fonger presented Cooper with letters from Arizona DPS Director and former Pinal County Sheriff Roger Vanderpool and former Pinal County Sheriff Chris Vasquez, which Fonger read to attendees.

Director Vanderpool wrote, “I have personally been on searches involving SSAR and they are some of the most dedicated, talented, professional, caring people I have ever witnessed, providing a service of love to individuals in need. God bless you and all the members of SSAR, each of you are heroes.”

Former sheriff Vasquez also praised the efforts of SSAR recounting their recognition and grant from the Lacy Peterson Foundation and their multiple achievements under his term as sheriff saying, “I saw the precision in the team as you handled each rescue, always putting safety first and achieving your goal; bringing the victims home alive to their loved ones. I count it both an honor and a privilege to have known and worked with the Superstition Search and Rescue Team.”

“My most sincere desire is that one day soon the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office will once again restore the relationship between the department and SSAR, for without you the PCSO’s responsibility for search and rescue will be costly and not as successful. They and the county need you to save lives. You are my heroes. God blesses each and every one of you.”

Fonger echoed the sentiments of the former sheriffs, thanking them for their service and pointing out the “honesty, integrity, leadership and empathy” of SSAR. “Tonight we are here with the best,” said Fonger in closing.

Marta Saint James read a letter from the Gold Canyon Business Association and Genevieve Bricker, President of ADOBE read her letter, which she said was a “tribute to Robert Cooper and all the magnificent (SSAR) members.”

Guest Speaker Jerry Monahan, AJPD Chief of Police, recounted his experiences with SSAR as a member of PCSO and also with AJPD. He expressed his appreciation for the professionalism and skills that SSAR possesses, which he said will be a foundation for a partnership with AJPD. “What you bring to the table is huge,” said Monahan. “Thank you so much for your willingness to partnership in this new venture.”

Cooper retook the floor and recognized the VIP guests that were invited to the dinner thanking them for their behind the scenes support. He then introduced the SSAR Executive Board consisting of Vice Commander Candice Hesson, Director Richard Wilson, Treasurer BJ Schroeder and Secretary Joyce Wilson.

He then recognized the SSAR Team Leaders made up of Training Officer Shelly Shaw; TRT Team, Candice Hesson and Rick Carpenter; Dive Team, Albert Moreta; Swift Water, Steve Tremonti and Sam Garnett; Quad Team, John Swain and Roger Barrientos and Friends of SSAR Eileen Tremonti and PJ Howell.

Ten-year pins were presented to SSAR team members Jim Ballard and Mike Wallace and five-year pins were also presented to Jeremy Schmidt and Dave Thompson. Additional five-year pins will also be presented to other members who were not in attendance.

Traditionally the SSAR Commander’s Award has been bestowed upon one individual SSAR team member chosen by the commander; however, Cooper said that he could not choose just one person and instead recognized three people to receive the coveted award, which went to BJ Schroeder, Shelly Shaw and Rick Carpenter. The winners’ names will be engraved on the SSAR plaque and will receive $100 gift certificates.

Gold Canyon Ledger Editor Thomas Preiss spoke recalling the contributions that SSAR has made to the community, followed by a solo performed by his wife Mary Lynn who sang You Raise Me Up.

In conclusion Cooper said, “It was a tough year – a lot of changes. I see nothing but good changes,” adding, “We touch the lives of about 200 people a year, now we will touch the lives of even more.”

While these may be the final days of SSAR’s 30 years of working in conjunction with PCSO; SSAR will still be active in the area and can be called directly for assistance 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week at 480-620-0299.

SSAR relies on donations from individuals and/or corporations and fund-raising activities to support the training and equipment they need 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 https://superstitionsar.org.

Second Rescue in SSAR’s Final Days with County

By Jill Jones
Gold Canyon Today

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) has been busy in their final days associated with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) with yet another rescue on Saturday, November 28, 2009; their second rescue in a week.

SSAR received a call around 4 p.m. Saturday to assist a 53-year-old woman who was injured while hiking with her husband in the Superstition Mountains. Bob and Linda McLaughlin of Peoria, AZ set out for a day hike around at 11:00 a.m. and were about four-and-a-half miles in when the injury occurred.

The couple was working their way down the North side of Minor’s Summit when Linda slipped and fell. It was later determined that she had broken her ankle. With the help of her husband the woman managed to hobble her way back up the summit where they were able to get a cell phone signal to call for help.

SSAR immediately sent their “hasty team” into the Minor’s Summit area to locate the couple. A hasty team is the “first responders” for SSAR. “They are our eyes and ears in the field to get the ball rolling,” explained SSAR Commander Robert Cooper.

A hasty team normally goes in to locate victims with just a radio and minimal equipment and then radios back to other team members to bring whatever additional supplies are determined to be needed once the situation has been assessed. In this situation however, SSAR already knew they would be dealing with an ankle injury so they were prepared with the supplies they would need in order to provide initial treatment for the hiker’s injured ankle.

After the hasty team located the couple and provided initial treatment of the woman’s injuries, they then radioed for a ground team to bring a “stokes basket” so the patient could be packaged for safe, manual transportation down the mountain.

The stokes extraction required the SSAR team to maneuver up, and then down, four miles of rocky terrain and narrow paths with trail-edge drop offs in the cold and rain, while carrying the stokes basket. The stokes basket is a metal, wire or plastic litter with sides designed to safely transport a patient.

Carrying a victim or patient in a stokes basket requires a team of six individuals who have to be able to carry the basket while walking forwards, sideways and backwards and simultaneously bushwhacking though vegetation, including cactus – a very tricky and prickly situation. Since the patient is carried over the trail, rescuers are relegated to having to maneuver the rough terrain on the edges of the trail while carrying the patient.

“This is what we train for and this is what we do best, assisting those in need so they can return home to their families,” said Cooper.

While these may be the final days of SSAR’s 30 years of working in conjunction with PCSO; SSAR will still be active in the area and can be called directly for assistance 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week beginning December 1, 2009 at 480-620-0299.

Going forward, SSAR will be working in conjunction with the Apache Junction Police Department in developing an Urban Search and Rescue Team in addition to continuing to provide their award-winning wilderness search and rescue services.

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) is a volunteer service organization that assists individuals who experience wilderness-related problems in the Superstition Wilderness Area. The members are highly skilled in wilderness first-aid, technical rescue and orienteering who do not charge for these life-saving services. They sacrifice their personal time and 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 they need to continue serving individuals who find themselves in a situation in which they require assistance. They need these all-important donations now, more than ever. 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 an online donation visit SSAR at https://superstitionsar.org.

Injured Woman Rescued From Cliff

By Jill Jones
Pinal County Today

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) assisted in rescuing Lisa Alexander, 34, of Chandler from the face of a cliff north of Superior where Ms. Alexander and some friends were rock climbing and rapelling on Sunday, November 22, 2009.

SSAR was asked to assist PCSO and Superior Fire with the intricate technical rescue just north of the Superior tunnel in a location known as “the ponds.” This particular area is popular with hikers and rapellers and is known for the waterfalls that appear in times of heavy rain.

Ms. Alexander had reportedly shattered her knee cap while climbing, and according to SSAR Commander Robert Cooper “was in extreme pain.” Superior Fire moved her to a safe location on some cliffs in order to treat her injuries and then looked to SSAR to assist in transporting her off the cliff. While SSAR would normally employ a technical rope rescue; they chose not to in this particular situation due to the possibility of falling rocks, which could cause a hazard to cars on the road below and thereby necessitate closing down U.S. 60 for approximately two hours.

It was determined that a “short haul” helicopter rescue was called for, which required the assistance of DPS Rangers. In a short haul rescue, a trained rescuer accompanies the patient who is loaded into a nylon bag that is attached to a 100 to 200 foot rope. Then, both the patient and rescuer are attached to the helicopter and ride beneath the chopper to a safe area in which they can be put down.

Ms. Alexander was lifted off the cliff and flown to the safety of the Oak Flats campgrounds where an ambulance then took her to an area hospital.

“SSAR trains regularly in this highly critical skill,” explains Cooper, who added, “DPS maintains currency with 40 rescuers throughout the state for quick response and SSAR has the honor to hold eight of these positions.”

“We received an update on Lisa and her knee,” said Cooper. “It did shatter and they were only able to put back together 2/3rds of it. Ouch!”

Ms. Alexander will most likely be including her rescuers in noting what she is thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) is a volunteer service organization affiliated with, but not funded by, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office 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 and 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 https://superstitionsar.org.

Superstition Mountain Rescue

Monday, 26 October 2009

By Jill Jones
Today Publications

When Alice Dodgson, 72, from Michigan embarked on a hike in Peralta Canyon on Thursday, October 22, 2009 she never expected to be returning from her hike in a helicopter, but that’s exactly what happened.

Ms. Dodgson fell after she slipped on some loose rock while hiking, resulting in a painful compound fracture of both the tibia and fibula. Superstition Search and Rescue and Sonoran Search and Rescue received the call to assist around 2 p.m.

Although it took rescuers a couple of hours to reach her, they said that Ms. Dodgson was a “real trooper,” stoically enduring the pain until help arrived. After attending to her injuries, it was determined that it would be best not to subject her to a bumpy ride down the mountain, so a DPS helicopter was called in to assist.

Ms. Dodgson was carefully loaded into a stokes basket and carried 1/2 mile up to Fremont Saddle where a DPS helicopter was waiting to take her to a nearby hospital for treatment.

“We got to the top, and the pilots shined their lights – which almost made them look like angels. Alice broke out in tears, and could not thank us all enough. They were grateful tears, not tears of pain. She was a trooper the whole way up,” said SSAR member Jeff Harris.

Superstition Search and Rescue (SSAR) and Sonoran Search and Rescue are volunteer service organizations affiliated with, but not funded by, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office that assist individuals who experience wilderness-related problems in the Superstition Wilderness Area.

Both teams rely 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 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 https://superstitionsar.org.

For information on Sonoran Search and Rescue visit their website at http://www.sonoransar.org or call Louie Villa at 520-705-7511.

SSAR Will Not Join Sheriff’s Posse

For Immediate Release from Superstition Search and Rescue:

Superstition Search and Rescue (SAR) would like the citizens of Pinal County, whom we have served for the past 15 years, to know that SSAR will not be joining Sheriff Paul Babeu’s newly proposed search and rescue posse program. A decision was made by open team vote on Tuesday, October 13, 2009, with 95 percent of our membership in attendance, that SSAR can better serve the citizens of Pinal County by continuing to operate as a separate resource, rather than to become a part of a posse program.

SSAR has our own command structure which has a proven track record and which follows the highest standards in the industry. Our members are professionally trained in all wilderness search and rescue techniques including wilderness first response. Because of this we have successfully assisted and saved over 2,000 lives in this decade alone.

We do not believe we should require members of our highly trained group to become posse members if they do not wish to do so. We feel this decision should be left to the personal choice of each and every member.

We also believe that operating as a posse search and rescue unit would further burden tax payers and limited county funds. Our team, through its affiliation with the sheriff’s office, received liability insurance through that association. Going forward we will be covered through provisions in Arizona State Statutes for volunteers and volunteer organizations, in addition to having the option of obtaining liability insurance through the National Association of Search and Rescue, thereby saving the county additional expense.

Over the last 15 years, SSAR, a 501c3 organization has been fortunate to be supported and equipped through private donations and fundraisers for which we are extremely grateful. We intend to continue to provide quality, highly skilled and professional search and rescue services under this model. It is our hope that we will continue to receive the support of the community as we move forward in our decision to provide independent skilled search and rescue services to you; our citizens, visitors and friends.

For additional information on SSAR, to make a donation, to become a member or to volunteer, please visit our website at www.superstitionsar.org.

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 https://superstitionsar.org.