On Friday afternoon, June 7, I drove to the San Rafael Swell area near Goblin Valley to pick up our scout troop. The boys had spent the week hiking the canyons and Spanish Trail area. Upon arriving, I learned that Friday morning four of the boys had hiked ahead of the group, had become separated, and were missing. One of the boys was my own son. The others are also my boys (to the unspoken dismay of 450 innocent people, I am currently the bishop of the ward that sponsors the troop). After searching for the boys for several hours, we flagged down an Emery County Sheriff's Deputy and informed him of the missing boys. By this time, the Emery County Sheriff's Posse had been in the area for many hours rescuing a hiker who had fallen off a cliff. All were just on their way home when they were called back to search for our boys.
By night fall, none had been found. The search and rescue personnel stayed through the night searching as best as possible in the dark. By 6:30 a.m., my son walked out and we learned that the others had been separated from him the night before. A plane was called in, as well as other members of the Posse to continue the search. The high winds forced the plane to be grounded, but the searchers continued to work for hours, without sleep, through a miserable, hot and windy day. Almost thirty hours after they were last seen, the final three boys were spotted lodged on a cliff. They had been trapped since 8:30 p.m. the night before. Rescuers were lowered 180 feet to reach the boys. With the help of a Life Flight helicopter, and over several difficult hours, each of the boys was lifted the 180 feet to the top of the cliff and flown out.
I was amazed to learn that these people are volunteers who contribute their time and equipment. To me as a parent, it was a great comfort to have them there. They were concerned, professional and selfless.
Since returning home, I have learned that the Sheriff and dispatch were pestered with calls from concerned family members all night and the next day. The mother of two of the boys who were lodged on the cliff had another 14-year-old son killed several years ago. She was understandably distraught to be missing two others and called repeatedly for updates. She was always treated politely and with genuine care by dispatch, as were all of the other concerned people who called. The Sheriff even returned calls to extended family members from an accident site on I-70.
On behalf of the families of the boys, the members of the Farmington 1st Ward and Troop 103, I would like to publicly commend Sheriff Guymon, Captain Les Thompson of Search and Rescue and the other members of the Posse for their heroic efforts in finding and rescuing these boys. As a parent, I will always be grateful to them. Our appreciation also to the families of these people who let their family members leave for days on such searches. Emery County is fortunate to have such a resource and should be very proud of these great people.