They were treated at Verde Valley Medical Center for possible hypothermia, and the female was released.
“Their body temperatures were still in a normal range,” Camp Verde Fire District firefighter Jake Cecil said. “They weren’t too hypothermia yet.”
Montezuma-Rimrock Fire District received the call at 7:51 p.m. to respond to North Culpepper Road.
According to MRFD Capt. Tim White, the couple was trying to cross at a low-water crossing when their ATV got swept up in the fast water.
“It’s the time of year. The snow melted very quickly. The water came up a couple feet throughout the day,” White said.
The water pushed the couple about 20 feet until they grabbed dried brush that they clung to until rescuers were called.
Crews from MRFD, CVFD, Sedona Fire District and an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter responded.
Rescuers lowered a raft into the water from a foot bridge and moved it on a tether to reach the stranded victims.
SFD Capt. Tim Lefler, who teaches swift water rescue as in instructor for Rescue 3 International, said in this area, he’s rescued more people from rivers than burning buildings.
The water was too deep to stand, he said, and cold.
“You lose your body heat 25 times faster in the water than the air,” Lefler said. “They were extremely cold when we got to them.”
Despite the elements, the couple really toughed it out,
“I don’t know how much longer they could have held on. They were getting pretty tired of holding on,” he said.
Camp Verde gets a lot of water rescue calls this time of year, Cecil said. With all of the snow melting, the streams swell up with runoff.
MRFD is continually training in swift water and rope rescue, Capt. Dale Duns said, and it was great to see the local departments work together for a safe rescue.
Eight years ago, no one in the Verde Valley had swift water training, according to Lefler.
“It was really rewarding to see that everyone was on the same sheet of music and we did a successful rescue,” he said. “We’re all working out of the same concepts.”
Alison Ecklund can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 125, or e-mail