PHOENIX - After multiple people were rescued and some died on Arizona trails this week, some are wondering if Arizona needs a law that punishes hikers who hit the trail despite extreme heat warnings.
The idea is similar to Arizona's "stupid motorist law," that makes drivers pay for their rescue if they go around a barricade and get trapped in a flooded road or wash.
The Phoenix Fire Department, whose first responders are usually the ones called to rescue people from Camelback or Piestewa Peak, said it doesn't have an official position on such a law. But, a department spokesperson said the agency is concerned about anything that might make people hesitate before calling 911 for fear they may have to pay.
Some people also cite danger to first responders as a reason to have a "stupid hikers law." But fire officials don't believe they're in any more danger than usual.
“There is always a level of risk in everything that we do," Capt. Ardell Deliz said. "Probably the most dangerous thing we do every day is driving from one call to the next.”
Legally, experts said a "stupid hikers law" would be a lot of work. A statewide law would have to incorporate all lands and trails, and involve all the agencies that own or manage them.
Attorney Bob Mann said the law would have to be very clear about how people could violate it, and make sure people knew they were violating it. And that would probably mean closing all the trails.
"The difficulty in closing the trail is, there are just too many entry and exit points," Mann said. "It’ll take the whole day to close down every single trail.”