A Little Christmas Present for Skiers

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(Gallatin County, Mont.)  The pair of cross county skiers that Sheriff’s Search and Rescue volunteers located during the night made it out about 5:00 this morning.  The 2 locals had planned on spending 3 days at the Fox Creek cabin.  After spending all day skiing into the area south of Bozeman they were unable to locate the notoriously difficult- to-find Forest Service rental chateau.  With darkness, a snow storm and exhaustion descending on them, they set up camp about a quarter mile short of their destination.  This is where the Sheriff comes into our story.  The young woman travels internationally and luckily was equipped with a satellite location and limited messaging device known as a SPOT.  Her mother received text messages from the device and got conflicting “I’m Ok” followed by “help” texts starting at about 5:30 last night.  The family has a plan and protocol when she travels internationally but did not have a plan for this circumstance.  Sheriff Gootkin states “Being a parent, it is understandable–you get a help message from your daughter, even when you think it could be a mistake, what do you do? You try to help her.  That’s where we come in.  About 15 rescuers worked through the night because that is what they do.  In Gallatin County we have had only 3 or 4 SPOT help activations in the last several years; most were not intentional.  We are glad this story ended happily. This is an opportunity for us to remind people to take some time and fully understand the safety devices they have and to make sure the people that are getting the messages know what the messages mean and how you plan to confirm the status.”  He added “get out and enjoy the fresh snow today and make sure to thank a SAR volunteer if you see them.”

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