On Friday, December 21st, a little after 5:00 pm, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office with the Big Sky Division of Sheriff’s Search and Rescue completed a water rescue on the Gallatin River near Big Sky. A fisherman became trapped when a ice dam broke upstream causing a large surge of water, ice, and debris to swept through the area. The flooding ice and water created a new channel in the river that effectively left the fisherman stranded on an island. The fisherman could not cross the fast flowing water and debris to safety.
Search and rescue members trained in whitewater rescue responded with safety lines and flotation gear, which they were able to throw to the fisherman. After securing himself with the equipment, the fisherman was able to walk through the rushing water to a nearby bank. We did receive several reports of rising river levels down stream into the valley and some associated debris but at the time of the report there are no reports of damage or conditions that warrant concern.
Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind people to take extra care when enjoying local rivers during the wintertime. Thin and brittle ice and very cold, rapidly moving water present obvious dangers. However, people should also be aware that water and debris can build up behind ice jams. When the ice jams break, large walls of floodwater, ice, and debris can move rapidly downstream causing immediate danger to lives and property.
On another note the premier of “Snow Guardians”, a documentary about backcountry skiing and the men and women of Search and Rescue and the ski patrol, will be at the Emerson Cultural Center Friday December 28th at 7:00 pm. https://www.facebook.com/SnowGuardians?ref=hl