(Gallatin County, Mont.)
On January 17, 2016, at 2:48 p.m., the West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch received a third party 911 call reporting a snowmobiler in Cabin Creek who had sustained head and face injuries when a large branch struck him just under his right eye through his open face shield. The snowmobiler, a 59 year old male from St. James Minnesota, was reported bleeding profusely from the wound.
Personnel from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, The U.S. Forest Service, and the West Yellowstone Division of Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, responded.
A Deputy was able to make contact with the three person group and establish that the injured snowmobiler could still ride. A Rescue team was dispatched to intercept the group as they slowly traveled out to the Fir Ridge parking lot. Rescuers escorted them safely to a waiting Hebgen Basin Fire Department ambulance.
The injured snowmobiler declined EMS treatment and opted instead to travel by personal vehicle to the hospital in Ennis.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to be ever mindful of the hazards present while enjoying their chosen sport. Protective equipment should be worn in accordance with manufactures specifications in order to provide the protection expected of the equipment. A properly adjusted and utilized helmet is an extremely important piece of protective gear especially in heavily tree covered areas where snowmobilers may not be able to avoid hazards such as tree branches and tree wells.
On January 16, 2016 at 5:30 p.m., the West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch center received a call from three snowmobilers who had become separated from the fourth snowmobiler in their group. The missing snowmobiler was a 25 year old female and she was riding with her 3 year old son. The two of them became separated from the group in heavy snow and near white out conditions in the Edward’s Peninsula area of Horse Butte.
Personnel from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, West Yellowstone Division of Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, and Forest Service Personnel responded. Multiple rescue teams searched the Horse Butte area as well as areas across the lake from the peninsula. A rescue team was able to meet up with the reporting parties who had also become stuck in heavy snow. Rescuers were able to assist those individuals in getting to their home.
After abandoning her snowmobile, the missing female and her child were eventually able to walk across the lake to a house with a light on and the homeowner assisted her in contacting her family and friends. The female and child were uninjured, but exhausted both physically and mentally. They had no survival gear with them and no cell phone.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers that since snowmobiling often occurs in remote locations; it is important to learn what to do if you become stranded and how to keep warm in changing terrain and weather conditions. It is also extremely important that you carry at least one reliable source of communication, such as a cell phone or emergency GPS satellite messaging device. Being able to communicate with your travel companions and emergency responders can save lives.
On 16 January 2016 at 2:00 P.M., two Billings men, 25 and 26 years old contacted Livingston dispatch requesting rescue after their snowmobiles become hopelessly stuck after traveling off the primary route and into some low ground above Fairy Lake North of Bridger Bowl. The men were quickly located by two members of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team on snowmobiles after locating tracks leading off into a dangerous section of terrain. Rescuers were able to safely get the two men and their equipment out of the backcountry. The Sheriff would like to remind back country enthusiasts to check the weather conditions and avalanche reports before entering the backcountry; know the terrain you plan to enter and always be prepared for an overnight stay in the event of an emergency. Photograph courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office.