Part of Hands Across America's Arizona Route Abandoned as Unsafe
May. 17, 1986
PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ Hands Across America, the fund-raising event that hoped to have participants form a human chain from sea to sea, will be broken for 140 miles along its rugged desert route in Arizona, according to state organizers.
A 94-mile stretch in southwestern Arizona was dropped Friday from the May 25 nationwide linkup because of health and safety concerns, said Dr. William Howard, who is serving as an adviser to the project's state organization.
The organization previously dropped 46 other miles of the route - 44 miles on Interstate 17 north of Phoenix and two miles east of Flagstaff - because the terrain was too rugged, said Abby Shapiro, Arizona spokeswoman for Hands Across America.
Volunteers scheduled to stand along the 94-mile stretch between Tonopah and Ehrenberg, one mile east of the California border, will be reassigned to other sections of the human chain, Howard said at a news conference with other Hands Across America officials.
Another Hands Across America official said Thursday the 46-mile-stretch would be covered along the entire length by ribbons instead of people, but Ms. Shapiro said that was incorrect.
The stretches would be marked, but not continuously because blowing ribbon could pose a traffic hazard, she said.
Organizers had hoped to have 5.5 million people link hands across 4,100 miles nationwide to raise money for the hungry and homeless.
Howard said the decision regarding the Tonopah-Ehrenberg stretch was based on a recommendation made by a medical advisory committee which conducted an extensive evaluation of the anticipated hot weather, availability of medical facilities and equipment, and the distances between road exits and rest areas, Howard said.
''The Hands Across America people came to health care providers in the city to ensure the safety of its participants. Our recommendations are based on the safety of the volunteers,'' said Howard.
''Volunteers should check with their physician before participating in the event and should remember the most important factor in preventing heat stroke is water,'' he said.
Including the changes, 322 1/2 miles in Arizona remain assigned for filling by people, Ms. Shapiro said Friday.