Cold Weather Rescue



On February 5, 2014, at 9:35 p.m., the West Yellowstone Police Department received a report of a snowmobiler who hit a tree and was seriously injured.  The injured snowmobiler was near the Madison Arm Resort, which is north of West Yellowstone.      

Personnel from the Gallatin County Sheriffs Office, the West Yellowstone Division of Gallatin County Search and Rescue, and Yellowstone National Park responded and assisted with the rescue.  The temperature was -35 degrees.

Rescuers responded on snowmobiles and a tracked ATV.  When they arrived on scene they found a 45-year-old male from Simpsonville, South Carolina, who had lost control of his snowmobile and hit a tree.  One of the witnesses said that the snowmobiler’s helmet “disintegrated” from the impact.   He was quickly packaged onto the rescue sled and transported to an awaiting Hebgen Basin Fire Department ambulance.  Life-flight was unable to respond because of severe weather conditions.   He was transported to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

An investigation conducted by the Sheriffs Office and the U.S. Forest Service revealed that speed and alcohol were involved.


Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin reports that the Park County Coroner Al Jenkins has identified 57 year old, Steven Lee Groat as the individual who was involved in the shooting on Sunday morning, 2/2/14,on Tulip Avenue near Belgrade.  Groat was the owner of the residence from where shots were fired, with bullets entering a neighbor’s residence.  The neighbor was slightly injured but did not require medical attention for his injuries.  The Gallatin County and Bozeman Police Department Special Response Team was called to the scene and determined that Groat was deceased.  An autopsy was conducted today by a state medical examiner.  Jenkins says that the evidence at the scene and from the autopsy shows that Groat died of a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  It appears the death occurred shortly after the shots were fired at his neighbor’s residence. 


For additional information Coroner Jenkins can be contacted through Park County Sheriff’s Dispatch at (406) 222-2050.

Situation West of Belgrade Resolved


(Gallatin County, Mont.) 2-2-14 at 10:15 p.m.  The incident west of Belgrade reported earlier has been resolved.  At about 9:45 p.m. Deputies were able to determine that the occupant of the suspect residence on Tulip Ave was inside and deceased.  Residents that evacuated are now allowed back into their homes.  The cause of death will be investigated by the Park County Coroner’s Office at the request of the Gallatin County Sheriff/Coroner.  This is normal practice for us when a death occurres during an active criminal investigation.  The cause of death will be announced by the Park County Coroner following his investigation and notification of next of kin.  Sheriff Gootkin commended the responders for their hard work in very cold and tense conditions and the community members for their understanding and cooperation.  Deputies will be on the scene for several more hours processing the crime scene and assisting the Coroner.  #####

Deputies Surround House West of Belgrade


(Gallatin County Mont.)  2-2-14 @8:00 p.m.:  Today at 11:11 a.m. Sheriff’s Deputies were sent west of Belgrade to a report of shots being fired into a building.  At the time there was no indication of where the shots came from or for what reason the residence was hit.  One person was in the building and slightly injured. That person was evacuated from the residence while Deputies investigated.  Later it was determined that the shots were fired from a neighboring residence.  At the current time Deputies and members of the Sheriff’s Office/Bozeman Police Special Response Team have the area secured and continue to try and make contact with the occupant of the suspect residence.  Any other residences that may have been threatened have been notified and some have chosen to evacuate.  It is unknow how long they may be displaced.  Sheriff Gootkin said “We appear to have the situation contained to the suspect residence and will go slowly and carefully to bring this investigation to a close.  There is no threat to the public outside of the immediate area.  #####”