MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- A Marine and his wife rescued two Yuma area teenagers from dehydration in the desert behind the foothills Sept. 17.
Master Sgt. Brian Benbow, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron operations chief, and wife Maria Benbow, were in the area with a metal detector, a hobby Benbow says they enjoy occasionally, when they saw 15-year-old Kelby Carley halfway up one of the mountains east of the foothills.
“We just take a metal detector out into the washes and creek beds and see what we can find,” said Benbow, a native of Cottonwood, Calif. “We had just started out into the foothills and we saw someone walking up on the side of the mountain.”
Benbow said he and his wife didn’t pay much attention to him until he started waving his shirt like a flag. Benbow and his wife then drove his jeep as far up into the hills as he could to reach Carley, until he was in shouting distance.
“I called across to him and asked him if he needed help,” said Benbow. “He said he was out of water, wasn’t feeling well, was dizzy, lightheaded and had been vomiting. That told me right away he was dehydrated.”
Benbow said he told Carley to sit down and grabbed a bottle of water from his cooler and started climbing across a ravine to reach Carley. Once he reached Carley he had him drink some water and started maneuvering him down the mountain towards his jeep.
“He just stood on the (side of the mountain),” said Benbow. “He was yelling, but I couldn’t hear what he was yelling until I got up there. He was yelling his buddy’s name.”
This is when Benbow learned there was another boy, who chose to remain unidentified for this story, out there with Carley. Benbow then called 911 and gave them specifics on where he was in order to help them find the other boy.
The two had started out at 6 a.m. with a backpack containing water and a cell phone in case of an emergency, said Carley’s mother Brenda.
Carley said he and his friend ended up leaving the backpack somewhere on the side of the mountain in order to cut down on the weight they had to carry up the mountain. Later, when the two had been in the sun for an hour, they looked for the backpack but were unable to find it.
“I started getting dizzy and passing out,” Carley said. “We were out there for six hours, but we were in the sun for only about an hour and a half.”
While Benbow was retrieving Carley, his wife Maria looked for the other boy and found him after about 15 minutes on the other side of the ridge Carley was on, said Benbow. Maria then took more water to the other teenager while Benbow drove the jeep closer to where they were.
“(The other boy) wasn’t as bad as the first one,” said Benbow. “He was a little bit more coherent, but he was still weak and had been throwing up.”
Rural/Metro met Benbow and his wife near the scene at Avenue 15E to receive the boys and ensure they received any medical aid needed.
The boys could have gotten hurt if Benbow and his wife hadn’t been there, he said. Parts of the mountain that they were on were quite steep, and in their weakened condition they could’ve fallen, which would have been a major problem since the area isn’t very well traveled.
“I was so surprised that anyone was out there,” said Carley. “I couldn’t get to him because I was so weak. I guess he’s my childhood hero. If he would not have found us, we probably would have died.”