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Feb 8, 2012 3:21 PM

Pinal Sheriff's chopper assists at fatal ATV accident, locates concealed pot

FLORENCE - Yesterday, the Pinal County Sheriff's Air Unit assisted paramedics in accessing a fatal ATV accident, and helped locate 529 pounds of marijuana.

Yesterday morning, the Pinal County Sheriff's helicopter was called by Bureau of Land Management agents to assist in locating a truck suspected of narcotics smuggling, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. While tracking the vehicle, Tactical Flight Officer Danny Lopez noticed a fresh set of ATV tracks, which were followed to find three quads hidden under thick brush and covered with camouflage tarps; 549 pounds of marijuana were found alongside the quads.

At about 4 p.m. yesterday, the air unit was called to respond to a rollover accident involving two men in their 70's riding a Polaris side-by-side ATV in the desert area east of Highway 79 and south of U.S. 60., the release states. Two paramedics were loaded into the helicopter and were flown to the remote area.

Walter McCary, from British Columbia, was pronounced dead at the scene from injuries after being ejected. Medics performed CPR on the other patient until a medical helicopter landed and flew him to a Valley hospital, the release states.

Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, "These two incidents occurred over 80 miles apart, clearly demonstrating the need for quick response over the vast area of Pinal County which is over 5,000 square miles. Using their tracking skills as a team, Lt. Elliott and Deputy Lopez located a drug load, only visible from the air. In the case of the fatal ATV accident, the paramedics blew a tire trying to access the scene along Cotton Canyon Road and later indicated without the use of our helicopter, they wouldn't have been able to reach the victims. I only wish we could have saved both riders. My heart goes out to the McCary family."

Pictured: Polaris ATV shown after rolling end over end near AJAX Mine.

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