Phoenix Councilwoman Will 'Back Off' 'Stupid Hiker' Law

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 - 4:49pm
Updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 9:15am
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
This is the Echo Canyon Trailhead entrance area. The praying monk can be seen in the distance.

Support for a "stupid hiker" law in Phoenix appears to be dead after the councilwoman who initially pushed the idea changed her mind.

In 2017, Phoenix firefighters responded to 259 mountain rescues. In 95 cases, they had to call the Police Department to bring in a helicopter.

While Councilwoman Thelda Williams has no problem with rescues involving unexpected emergencies, she became annoyed with stories about first responders being called to help people who failed to carry water or wandered off trail.

Williams asked city staff to investigate possibly charging so-called "stupid hikers," and during last week’s public safety subcommittee, she responded, “They have convinced me that we cannot have a stupid hiker law, that there are legitimate rescues and that we need to continue, and so I will back off.”

In the past, the Fire Department has expressed concern that some people might not call for help if they think they might be charged.

According to a City Council report, several states have hiker card programs with proceeds from the card purchases going to a fund to cover the costs of rescues. Hikers who need rescued and do not have cards could be charged rescue costs and those who do have cards could also be charged if they were reckless or negligent.

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