November 2007

Walt Barrand, Larry Hincha Continue The Search

(October Issue Rescue Story Continued)

By Mike Wallace
Superstition Search & Rescue

It was a sleepless night of worries and prayers by the parents and friends of 10 young boys and their three scout masters. An enjoyable hike into “Haunted Canyon” turned rapidly into a survival situation for this Scout troop after being stranded by a severe snow storm. 

Superstition Search And Rescue spent that same night looking for these scouts in spite of the harsh conditions.  Last month I shared with you the beginning of this story. I also wrote about two of our rescuers who chose to battle the harsh conditions of that night. 

Walt Barrand and Larry Hincha showed uncommon determination and concern for the lives of these young men. They were pulled from the field by command, exhausted from an all-night search.

Barrand and Hincha mourned the limitations of their bodies, both desiring to continue pushing their further than what would be healthy or safe. Last month I also shared with you Barrand’s story and who he is. 

Before You Know The Outcome

Before I tell you the outcome for this Scout troop, let me now tell you about Hincha and his role in this search.

Hincha was born and raised in the bustling town of Globe-Miami.  He met Colleen in the fifth grade; they married in 1973. According to Hincha, “at the age of 17 there were sparks, and now after 34 years, there are still sparks.”

Larry and Colleen have two daughters, Melissa and Amber.  Their two daughters have blessed Larry and Colleen with four grand kids: Zach, 10; Jared, 7; Alex, 6, and Ava, 4. According to Larry, “these are my present and future hiking partners.”

Larry started work in the copper mines as a boilermaker by trade then become an NREMT and Hazmat First Responder for the Emergency Response Team, finally retiring after 31 years of hard service.  He presently works as a plant mechanic for the Town of Gilbert Water Treatment Plant.

Hincha and his brother are chairman and chief financial officer, of the Ed and Patricia McWilliams Scholarship Fund, a non-profit organization that they established at the behest of an old friend and great hiking buddy. 

They have awarded over $100,000 to the graduates of Globe High School over the past 10 years.  “This has been very rewarding, seeing the life-altering effect it has had upon many kids from a small town. This fund shall exist in perpetuity, so we have only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg” stated Hincha.

A Life-Long Affair With The Outdoors

He grew up hunting, fishing and adventuring; it was the mainstay of his life.  Hincha said about his childhood, “I have had a life-long affair with the outdoors”.

As a member of the Central Arizona Trail Runners, Hincha has run wilderness trail races all over the state.  His competitive running career is over, but you still see him running for fun in the Superstition Mountains. 

He had a long career in fast-pitch softball, traveling to Canada and Mexico, playing against the Pan-American teams of each country several times.  With the Wilcox Exxon team, he won state ISC titles and attended the world tournaments in 1984 and 1985, finishing in the top 20 each year. 

After he "retired" from fast-pitch softball in 1986, he took up the game of tennis.  He helped coach the Miami High School tennis team from 1989 to 1994, being instrumental in producing several state champions — including his daughter Amber in 1993.

Hincha competed in many USTA tennis tournaments over the years, winning the State Tournament Men’s 35 Doubles titles in 2004 and 2005 and second place in the 2003 Southwest Tournament.   According to Hincha, “It had a lot to do with having a very good partner.”  (Knowing him, somehow I find that hard to believe.)  Hincha commits his time now to fostering his grandkids love for the outdoors.  He considers it “of utmost importance.”

He takes them hiking, mountain biking, rock hounding and on archeology adventures. He spends “priority time” with them, stating, “I share all the places of my youth, all the memories and adventures I have to share with them. I share quality time, times you cherish, great times that cannot be replaced”. 

Hincha continues, “I wish more people had the chance to see life through my eyes.  Life is not easy; enjoy the little things everyday for there is no promise of tomorrow.”

Commander Cooper Commends Hencha

Robert Cooper, commander of SSAR said this about Hincha: “Larry Hincha is a true rescuer.  His knowledge of our wilderness and efficiency with modern GPS and mapping programs have brought our team to a higher level and, on many occasions, proven essential to our success in searches.

“Hincha is a valuable resource to our team and on many occasions has been the instrument that directly affected the outcome of the rescue of an individual or individuals.  The Scout rescue was one of those examples.”

“Hincha, after hiking most of the night in search of these boys, spent the remainder of the night studying maps with two of the command members.  Clues and maps were studied, seeking to find high-percentage locations for these boys and their leaders. 

“Three locations were considered for high priority for a daybreak search.  Hopes were expressed for a break in the storm so DPS could be used as a resource to fly these areas.

“When the glow of the sun began to radiate over the mountains, Team One was kicked into the field, Larry Hincha and me.  I admired this man for his willingness to plow a row, looking again for these scouts after a sleepless night of doing battle with wind snow and cold. 

“An hour into the search, the storm let up enough that DPS could be called and they arrived, flying over our heads.  Hincha ran point most of that morning, pushing waste deep snow for hours. When we reached only the one-mile mark, we heard news over the radio that a camp had been found in one of the three places that Hencha had researched out. 

It’s Our Scouts; They’re Alive!

“Worry now was magnified that it was our Scouts and that they were still alive.  Team Two with six members was now kicked into the field.  Soon the news again over our team radios came, ‘It’s our Scouts; they are alive!”

“The strategy was to hike to the found camp with supplies in case DPS could not extract survivors.  If the troop could not be “helo extracted,” the rescue team would either have to physically carry the Scouts out or hunker out one more night with them, keeping them warm and well fed. 

“Many hours and miles later, Team One and Team Two staged — unbeknown by the troop — a mile above them on a mountain looking down at the camp in case the extraction was not possible.  We watched relieved as each Scout was extracted by DPS.

“If you were to ask any one on our team who saved the lives of these Scouts, I think they would all say their Scout masters for doing the right thing after they found themselves in trouble.”

If you were to ask any of us who found these Scouts, this would be the answer: Larry Hincha found these Scouts.