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Crews rescue hiker, 5 others stranded due to snow in Arizona

Five people had to be rescued after they got stuck in areas of northern and eastern Arizona blanketed by heavy snow from the latest major storm, authorities said.

In another rescue Tuesday, a barefoot hiker stranded on the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista in southern Arizona was airlifted to safety by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Rescue crews in northern Arizona ultimately used a helicopter to reach three hikers who were stranded in a canyon near Sedona. Crews also freed two people whose vehicle got stuck on a forest road near Heber-Overgaard.

The three hikers started out at Bear Mountain and repelled down a 200-foot (60-meter) cliff after about eight hours and then got stuck in Haribo Canyon on Sunday evening. They called for help, but rescuers couldn’t immediately reach them because of the storm, the Yavapai County sheriff’s office said.

Rescuers hiked for two days through rugged terrain and 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow to reach the trio while they huddled together at night with a warming blanket, sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said. Authorities kept in contact with the group by cellphone.

An Arizona Army National Guard UG-60 Blackhawk crew was able to hoist the hikers and the rescue teams from the site Tuesday.

Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes said the hikers are lucky to be alive, noting they had limited supplies and not much battery life on their cellphones.

In the Sierra Vista rescue, Cochise County sheriff’s officials were told a hiker was isolated and in distress.

A hoist-equipped UH-60 Black Hawk lowered an emergency technician 150 feet to the mountains below and then accompanied the hiker back up to the hovering helicopter.

Authorities said the hiker was suffering from exposure, hypothermia and possible frostbite and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Elsewhere, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office said crews from several agencies rescued two Phoenix-area men with four dogs after their vehicle got stuck on a forest road at Black Canyon Lake near Heber-Overgaard. That rescue began late Monday and ended early Tuesday, officials said.

Rescuers tried to clear a path to reach the stranded truck, but the snow was getting worse. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office provided a snowcat, a vehicle designed to move easily on snow, to complete the rescue, authorities said.

Parts of Heber-Overgaard got up to 14 inches (36 centimeters) of snow between Monday morning and Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.