Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue 2016 Annual Report

(Gallatin County Mont.)

Over the course of three days in August, Gallatin County Search and Rescue volunteers responded to calls in every corner of the county and beyond.

  • A woman broke her ankle up Beehive Basin near Big Sky.
  • Some dirt bikers were lost and stranded in Bear Canyon.
  • A hiker with a blown-out knee and altitude sickness needed rescuing off the Bridger Ridge.
  • A man was sick at Deer Lake, north of Big Sky.
  • A fisherman went missing on the Gallatin River.
  • An ATV rider crashed up Jackson Creek.
  • A climber on Granite Peak was injured in a nasty fall.

Search and Rescue Commander, Sheriff’s Capt Jason Jarrett cautioned that not all weekends are quite that busy, but that one was indicative of the record year Search and Rescue had for calls in 2016.

In 2016, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue had:

  • 10 SAR groups
  • 246 volunteers
  • 19 SAR Deputy Sheriff coordinators
  • 132 incidents
    • 69 rescues
    • 63 searches
  • Two or more incidents occur simultaneously 14 times
  • 10 mutual-aid calls to places like Madison, Park, Meagher, Lewis and Clark, Stillwater, and Roosevelt counties.

2016 saw noticeably more incidents than past years – so why the increase? More people are using the backcountry. Snowmobiling, hiking, hunting, and skiing make up most of the activity needing SAR help.

The overwhelming majority of people needing assistance are local residents. Almost all incidents are simply good people having a bad day, not negligence.

The mountains around us – the Bridgers, the Hyalites, the Gallatins – are so much a part of Bozeman’s backyard that it is easy to forget that much of it is wild and all of it is backcountry. It takes many people to support the outdoor lifestyle that draws people to Bozeman, and Search and Rescue volunteers are a big part of that group.

SAR volunteers continue to give thousands of hours of time in training and responding to emergencies. As is typical of our county, we have world-class talent giving back to their community, which makes our SAR a valuable resource for the rest of the state, too. Most of our volunteers would say they do it to support the outdoor lifestyle this community values and because they get to hang out with people they like and go places they would not ordinarily go.

Weather Complicates Rescue Near West Yellowstone

(Gallatin County, Mont.) On Friday January 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm, a local West Yellowstone snowmobile rental company contacted a Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer to report that one of their customers had been involved in a snowmobile accident and had suffered a knee injury. The reporting party indicated that the operator of the snowmobile was unable to ride out on his own. The Forest Service LEO, who is also a member of Gallatin County’s Search & Rescue unit, contacted a SAR rescue coordinator. Within a short period of time, a fairly accurate location of the incident was established, indicating a backcountry area off the Two Top snowmobile trail approximately 10 miles southwest of the Town of West Yellowstone.

Personnel from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the West Yellowstone Division of Gallatin County Search and Rescue, National Forest Service, and Yellowstone National Park responded to assist with the rescue. The terrain and snow conditions provided rescuers with difficult challenges in getting to the injured party. When rescue personnel arrived on scene, it was quickly determined that the 18-year-old injured male from Wisconsin had a much more serious injury than initially reported. The male in fact had a broken right femur and was in a substantial amount of pain. Rescuer personnel requested a rescue helicopter be brought in to a landing area near the patient; however, weather conditions prevented the helicopter from flying to that location.

The rescue team then placed the male in a full body compression splint and loaded him onto a specialized rescue sled. The team determined that they could not get the patient off the mountain the same way they had come in, so another route was navigated, including an area where the rescue sled was hand lowered. Rescuers were eventually able to make it back to a groomed trail and headed into Idaho to rendezvous with the rescue helicopter; which was able to make it to a landing zone approximately 10 miles away. The injured male was then transported by Life Flight Network personnel to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to know their limitations and the limitations of their snowmobiles, and stay on marked trails. The off trail areas are unmaintained and can be full of unseen hazards. Be alert for hazards such as tree wells, hidden stumps & creek bottoms, which can be unpredictable and unforgiving. Always let another member of your group know if you venture off trail keeping in mind that the most dangerous situations can occur if you get injured when you are alone. Photo courtesy of the Sheriff’s office.

Truck Driver Found Deceased

On January 11, 2017, at approximately 2:30PM, the Gallatin County Sheriff`s Office received a call from a concerned employer from the State of Washington stating that he was unable to reach the driver of one of his trucks.  He stated that the truck had not shown up for its scheduled stop, and he last knew the driver and truck to be at the Town Pump on Business Hub Drive outside Belgrade, MT.

MHP and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office located the truck still parked in the lot, where it had remained since the previous evening.  The driver could be seen in the sleeper, but would not respond to the officers.  Law Enforcement forced entry into the truck so that Central Valley Fire and AMR could assess the driver’s health, it was quickly discovered that he had passed away.

The matter was taken over by the Gallatin County Deputy Coroner, and it was determined that 61-year-old Elbert Price, of Vancouver, Washington, had passed in his sleep due to natural causes.  The family was notified, and Dokken-Nelson responded to assist in transporting the body out-of-state for disposition.

Deputies Search in Sub Zero Temperatures for Crash Suspect

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Wednesday at about 1:oo in the morning Deputies were dispatched to I-90 for near Logan.  A Cadillac Escalade stuck a semi at a high speed, rolled and the driver fled on foot.  Deputies including a k-9, Manhattan Police and MHP Troopers spent the next 4 hours tracking Gary Migliore of Belgrade through the snow and sub zero temperatures.  Sheriff Gootkin says “there was a definite risk to his safety, the Deputies could not tell if he was injured and delusional from the crash or just running because he had warrants.  Public safety is our primary job, even when it puts us at risk and we take that job very seriously.”  In the end Mr. Migliore was found, cold and suffering from mild frost bite.  He was taken to the hospital to be checked then arrested on outstanding warrants.  One officer also suffered a mild case of frost bite.

Central Park Woman found Deceased Outside Her Home

(Gallatin County, Mont.)   On January 3, 2017 at 8:30 A.M., Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Coroner was called to a home on Central Park Road between Belgrade and Manhattan.   Betty Jean Schneiter, an 88 year-old female suffering from Alzheimer’s, was found deceased outside her home.  Preliminary investigation indicates her death was weather related.  Official Temperatures at the Airport reached -16 degrees F during the night and early morning.   #####

Missing Woman Found West of Bozeman

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Unfortunately the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has discovered Crystal Collins deceased.   Jake Collins has been taken into custody by Sheriff’s Detectives and is being held at the Gallatin County Detention Center charged with Deliberate Homicide.  Further information will be available through the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday.

Woman Missing from West of Bozeman

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Corrected 1-2-17 6:24 PM

Crystal (Keller) Collins, a 32-year-old Bozeman woman was last seen between 3:00 – 4:00am New Years Day when she reportedly walked away from her residence in the Mountain View Trailer Park at 8628 Huffine Lane, just west of Bozeman. She has not been seen or heard from since this time.  The report was received by the Sheriff’s Office Monday at 9:45 am.

Collins is 5’7”, medium build, dyed red hair with green eyes, last seen wearing black coat, blue jeans and brown leather boots with a multi-colored knit hat. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office at 406-582-2100 or Crime Stoppers at 406-582-1131. You may remain anonymous. Persons providing information leading to the location of Collins could be eligible for a reward.

**Photos Attached Below**

**Does not depict clothing worn on night of disappearance.