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GILA NATIONAL FOREST, N.M. – New Mexico State Police used a helicopter to rescue a group of 16 Boy Scouts and nine adults who were stranded by severe weather in the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

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The Boy Scout troop from Texas had left for a hike in the forest on Oct. 1 and was scheduled to return one week later, New Mexico State Police told the Fort Worth-Star Telegram.

“They were supposed to be out Thursday, I believe, and so they actually had to spend Friday night or Thursday night at that location, and Friday night as well, before we actually had been notified,” Bob Rodgers, the New Mexico State Police Search and Rescue coordinator, told KFOX.

The group was forced to stay in the forest on Oct. 7 because of heavy rain and the rising river. The area the troop was in required them to cross the river 15 times to return to the visitors center.

“There were crossings every couple hundred yards, and of course as you go downstream, the water gets deeper and faster,” Laurie Wlosinski, New Mexico State Police Search and Rescue volunteer and incident commander, told The Silver City Daily Press. “A lot of people will try to walk downstream thinking they can get across, when normally it is worse, because every stream that comes in brings more water. The water gets faster and the water gets higher, and that’s how they got stranded.”

The adults in the group tried to form a human chain, but the scouts were unable to manage the fast-moving water, which left the group split on both sides of the river, Wlosinki told The Silver City Daily Press.

“The scoutmaster wasn’t particularly in favor of starting a search and rescue — it was felt that they could all handle it,” Wlosinski told The Silver City Daily Press. “They’re just not from the area, and I don’t believe they had a full appreciation of the power of the river, and the fact that the weather was not getting better anytime soon.”

Once they were called in, the New Mexico National Guard was able to find the Boy Scouts on Saturday, but they were unable to rescue the group because of weather, KFOX reported. Low ceilings, strong winds, thunderstorms and rain meant rescuers had to wait until Sunday to rescue the group.

The New Mexico State Police shared a video of the rescue, which required each person to be hoisted into the helicopter because there was no room for it to land.

The helicopter’s operator, Kurtus Tenorio, told KFOX it was one of the most technical rescues they had ever done, but it was worth it in the end.

“When we first got on scene and said ‘Hey, there they are, we see them,’ it was pretty meaningful. There was a lot of hugs, a lot of high fives. You could see them, they saw the relief coming in, and that always makes us feel good and it makes us real proud to be doing what we do.”

The rescue operation took 17 hours to complete, Tenorio told KRQE.

Boy Scouts of America emphasizes preparedness and weather safety on its website, warning everyone to know the forecast before you leave for a trip, prepare for any weather hazards associated with your destination and to double-check weather conditions when you arrive.