Snowmobilers Rescued from Lions Head

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  On Saturday January 6, 2018 at 7:16 pm., the West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch center received a 911 call reporting two lost and stuck snowmobilers. A 47 year old male from North Carolina reported that he and another male snowmobiler from Utah were stuck and lost somewhere in the Lionhead area, approximately 15 miles west of the Town of West Yellowstone. Their 911 call provided rescuers with an accurate GPS location.
Personnel from Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, West Yellowstone Secton responded. A group of eight rescue personnel responded on snowmobiles to the GPS location provided.
Rescuers found the men approximately 1 hour after the initial call. The snowmobilers were in good condition, but low visibility from fog and snow prevented them from finding one of the stuck snowmobiles. Rescuers loaded up one of the victims, doubled him up on a rescue sled and everyone was able to ride out.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to be careful when recreating off trail and to know your limitations. A fun adventure into the amazing backcountry areas we have access to can quickly turn into an emergency situation.  Always remember to ride with a partner, stay with your partner, carry a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency, and be prepared to survive the night if you should have to. #####


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Avalanche Fatality near Cabin Creek

(Gallatin County, Mont.) On January 2, 2018 at 4:49 p.m. Gallatin County dispatch received a report of an avalanche with a person injured. The initial location was reported as Cabin Creek Campground however, GPS coordinates indicated the location was in Cabin Creek approximately 19 miles north of West Yellowstone.

Rescuers from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the West Yellowstone Division of Gallatin County Search and Rescue and Air Methods responded.

The sheriff’s search commander immediately dispatched a helicopter from Air Idaho to positively locate and assess the possibility of landing and rendering medical aid. Individuals on scene were instructed to find and improve any possible landing zone for the helicopter. The Air Idaho helicopter was on the scene in 32 minutes but revival efforts were unsuccessful.

The injured snowmobiler, 40-year-old Weylon W Wiedemann, from Pine City Minnesota was pronounced dead at the scene. The Sheriff’s Coroner with help from the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center will conduct the investigation Wednesday.

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Dangerous Crashes

(Gallatin County, Mont) A Gallatin County Sheriff’s vehicle was totaled after a tractor-trailer crashed into it Saturday morning. Deputy Randy Schott had responded to an accident on the Bozeman Pass, on Interstate 90, and was parked behind it to protect the scene. A driver who was involved in the accident was sitting in the deputy’s car when a semi truck slammed into the back of it. No one was injured but the vehicle was totaled.

The job of law enforcement officers is often to put themselves between the public and danger. This is the second Sheriff’s Office car totaled in December trying to protect crash scenes on the interstate. Winter driving conditions increase the dangers to anyone stuck on the side of the road, so always slow down and give them plenty of room. Slow down, move over look for directions on which lane to be in. When in doubt “pull to the right for sirens and lights.”

Photos courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office.

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New Years Snowmobile Rescues

(West Yellowstone, Mont.)  Last Night at 5:26 p.m. West Yellowstone Police Department dispatch received a 911 call from an individual reporting that he and five of his friends had gotten their snowmobiles stuck in a deep gully and were unable to get them out. GPS coordinates retrieved from the 911 call indicated that the snowmobilers were somewhere in Cabin Creek, 19 miles north of West Yellowstone. Due to the difficult riding conditions, expected below-zero temperatures, and 2-3’ of new snow in the area, the six snowmobilers from Bottineau, North Dakota were concerned about being able to make it out to the trailhead and requested assistance.

Seven Rescuers from Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, West Yellowstone Division, Two Bear Air, and Air Methods medical helicopters were all used to locate the men.

Rescuers proceeded into Cabin Creek in deep snow and located two abandoned snowmobiles. The Rescuers, all world-class riders, found that a trip that can usually be done in an hour took over four hours and they had difficulty accessing the North Dakotans.  Just before the Two Bear and Air Methods helicopters arrived, Rescuers observed three snowmobiles leaving the area to the north.  A Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputy intercepted all six snowmobilers near Big Sky.  They had been able to free three of their snowmobiles, extract themselves from the gully, and ride out 15 miles to the trailhead.

At about the same time, two other snowmobilers were reported overdue after going into the Two Top area west of West Yellowstone. Search and Rescue Deputies were able to retrieve the two out-of-state visitors without the use of rescue volunteers.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to make sure they are prepared for dangerous situations when enjoying Montana’s winter backcountry. He commends the North Dakota group for not giving up and finding a way out but cautioned, “Sometimes, when help is on the way, it may be best to build a fire and hunker down. Conditions were very bad last night.”  He said conditions in the mountains right now are very difficult for snowmobiling and the avalanche danger is considerable. He advises riders to have enough equipment to survive a night out in harsh conditions if the need arises.

Sheriff Gootkin would also like to extend a special thanks to all the volunteers who gave up time with family celebrating the New Year to brave the cold in search of the snowmobilers.



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New Years Eve Arrests

(Gallatin County, Mont.) New Year’s Eve was a busy night at the Detention Center. From 6 pm on Dec 31 to 6 am on January 1, local law enforcement officers made 14 arrests – more than one an hour on a normally-quiet Sunday night. The tally included 4 DUIs and 3 aggravated DUIs, 1 possession of drugs, and 1 criminal mischief. Thanks to everyone who arranged for a designated driver and otherwise played it smart! #####

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Update:Truman Gulch Avalanche Rescue

Update 8:40 P.M. the injured skier, a 39 year old man from Bozeman, skied off the ridge from Bridger Bowl into Truman Gulch. He was skiing with friends but they were not nearby. He triggered an avalanche and was carried downhill. He was buried for a while, but surfaced with an injured knee. He telephoned his friends and they called someone they knew at Bridger Bowl. Bridger Bowl then called 911 and a backcountry rescue was initiated.

Two members of the backcountry search and rescue team reached the man from the ridge. They packaged him in a litter and transported him down Truman Gulch. More search and rescue members who came uphill on snowmobiles met them about halfway down. The man was then transported to a waiting ambulance and at the hospital by 8:00.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind all outdoor enthusiasts that skiing in the backcountry does not come without risks, especially when there is recent snowfall. In addition, if you are injured, a rescue can be a complicated affair. Calling 911 early can make a complicated event less so.  Sheriff Gootkin would like to thank all of the volunteers who responded to this incident. The temperatures were cold and the conditions were hazardous.

(Bozeman, Mont.) Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Teams were sent to the west side of the Bridger Mountains at the north end of Truman Gulch at 4:00 this afternoon for a person caught in an avalanche.  The report from Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol indicated a person had been caught in a slide but was not buried.  They had leg and hand injuries and a broken ski.  Rescuers at Bridger Bowl dropped over the top while Rescuers in the valley attempted to access the area by Life Flight medical helicopter.  Conditions such as avalanche danger, visibility and deep snow eliminated a landing.  The rescue team from Bridger Bowl had a tough ground slog with the patient where they were met by teams using snowmobiles and skies coming up from the bottom.  Information will be updated as it becomes available.  Check Gallatin Media for the updates.

Avalanche conditions in the Bridger Range are listed as Considerable according the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. Current information can be found at

Video courtesy of Aidan Jarrett


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Christmas Eve Rescues

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Two rescues 120 miles apart sent Sheriff’s SAR out today. At 11:00 a.m. West Yellowstone Police Department dispatch received a call from a man reporting that his son had sustained a broken leg in a snowmobile crash near junction 8 on the Two Top trail approximately 5 miles west of West Yellowstone. Initial information received from the call indicated that the injured snowmobiler had struck a tree after attempting to maneuver through a rough corner on the trail.

Personnel from the Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue West Yellowstone Division responded.

Rescuers found the 14-year-old male from Salt Lake City Utah, only to discover that he had no injuries aside from a possible sprained wrist. The snowmobile rental company was contacted to facilitate removal of the damaged snowmobile.

After checking the patient for additional injuries, the rescuers cleared the scene and returned to West Yellowstone.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind know become familiar with their equipment and more importantly to ride within their skill level and stay on marked trails. Low temperatures common in the area combined with an inoperable snowmobile can quickly lead to a dangerous situation.

Secondly at 2:30 SAR volunteers were sent to the area below Saddle Peak just outside the boundary of Bridger Bowl. A 54 year old Bozeman man had fallen and sustained internal injuries in an area know as the Cueball. He was skiing alone but other local skiers observed the crash and called for help. He was transported to the Bridger Bowl Patrol Room and then transported by ambulance to the hospital. Sheriff Gootkin reminds skiers that the area out of bounds at Bridger is not covered by the ski patrol. It is not controlled for avalanches and rescues can be delayed as volunteers from the valley need to respond from Bozeman.

From all of us at the Sheriff’s Office, Happy Holidays. Get out and get active in our great outdoors. We’ve got your back.

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Conditions Make For Dark Rescue in WYell

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  On Friday at 6:30 pm., the West Yellowstone Police Department received a 911 call reporting a missing/overdue snowmobiler.  The 55-year old male from California became separated from his sons about two hours earlier off the South Plateau trail, 15 miles south of West Yellowstone. Cell Phone forensics indicated his last location was approximately 10 miles west of town.

Rescuers from the Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue West Yellowstone Division responded.  With rescuers unsure of the missing snowmobiler’s location, teams were sent both south and west in an attempt to locate him.  About 9:00 P.M. the rescue team south of town found the man 20 miles from town, down a very steep embankment, and in about 5 feet of snow. Rescuers navigated very tough terrain, poor visibility and deep snow to get to the him. He was uninjured and able to ride out on his own after the rescue team retrieved his buried and upside-down snowmobile.  He said that he became separated from his sons, got turned around and lost and while trying to find his way back to town missed a hairpin corner. He went off a steep drop-off, and tumbled down the hill.  He was unable to climb back up the steep hill and due to the pitch-black darkness, was unable to determine how to get to another part of the trail.  His efforts were complicated by the deep snow. The West Yellowstone area received between 4 and 12 inches of new snow yesterday. He was convinced that he was going to have to try to survive the night out there. Deputy Sheriff Mike Gavigan

said last night, “Another success story for SAR at the end of the night.  It is personally the most snow I have ever snowmobiled in, super tough conditions.  The West Yellowstone team responded amazingly as I have come to expect.”

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to know your limitations.  A fun adventure into this amazing backcountry can quickly turn into an emergency.  Always remember to ride with a partner, stay with your partner, carry a reliable means of communication and be prepared to survive the night if you should have to. #####

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Garnet Mountain Search

On 12-16-17 at about 1:25 AM, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office received a call advising she and her boyfriend had been hiking up Garnet Mountain and were very cold and now unsure of where to go.  They had left at about 5pm to hike to the Forest Service Cabin.  They were planning to stay the night there and ski out the next morning.  When they could not locate the cabin, they decided to try to head back down to their vehicle.  However, due to it being dark & snowing they became unsure of where to go.  This is when they decided to stop and make the call for help.

With a Gallatin County Deputy acting as incident coordinator, Gallatin County Search and Rescue was activated.  Searchers responded to the area and searched on foot. At about 5:00 AM the two individuals were located.  After assisting in warming them up, the Searchers assisted the two back to the trailhead to their vehicle.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to, again, reemphasize the importance of being prepared when going out into the backcountry.  The two individuals in this case were fortunate to have cell service and well charged phone batteries to call.

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Jury Duty Scam

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has received multiple calls regarding an ongoing scam. The scammer identifies himself as a Lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office and informs people they have missed jury duty. The caller informs you a warrant has been issued for missing jury duty.

In most of the cases, they request the person call 406-209-9664 to resolve the matter. They tell you if you send money the warrant will be quashed. This is a scam and we would like to remind everyone that the Sheriff’s office will not request money

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