Gallatin County Search and Rescue

A busy week in Gallatin County.

At approximately 9:15 pm, Gallatin County Dispatch received a report of a 19-year-old female about to have a seizure on the steep trail to the “M.”  The female, who was with a friend, lost consciousness while sheriff’s deputies, an American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance, Bridger Canyon Fire, and Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to the scene.  Rescuers hiked to the still unconscious female and provided first aid.  Rescuers then transported the female back to the parking lot with a specialized wheeled backcountry rescue litter.  The female, who had eventually regained consciousness, lost consciousness again during the transport back to the parking lot.  AMR transported her to Bozeman Health Hospital.

On Sunday, June 25,  the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue teams rescued a family of rafters who ran into trouble on the Gallatin River near Gallatin Gateway.  On Monday, rescuers responded to a female that needed evacuation after being kicked by a horse in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness.

On Tuesday, June 27, search and rescue members participated in an approximately six-hour long search for a reported missing person at the Sourdough Canyon Trailhead.

Horse Rider Injured in Spanish Creek

(Gallatin County, Mont)  

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Deputies with Gallatin County Search and Rescue volunteers including; Sheriff’s Posse, Big Sky SAR, and SAR Hams, Helicopter Rescue and Alpine Team with the help of Gallatin Gateway Fire Dept, US Forest Service Law Enforcement, and AMR ambulance were dispatched at 3:15 this afternoon to the report of a horseback riding accident in the Spanish Creek area. An adult female had been kicked by a horse and there was strong suspicion that her leg was broken. Dispatch was not able to call the reporting party back for quite some time, so little information was received initially. It was determined that the patient and her party of three other riders were well off the road, approximately 4.5 miles of trail away from the Spanish Creek trailhead. The decision was made to launch the Reach Air medical helicopter based on the extended ground rescue response time to a potentially severe injury. Since 9-1-1 was called from a cell phone, coordinates of the location were immediately available to dispatchers, and they quickly forwarded the information to the helicopter dispatch. While ground crews responded to the trailhead to stage for a possible ground rescue, the Reach helicopter responded, and located the patient in a clearing. The helicopter landed and assessed the 60 year old female by approximately 4:05.

The female was given pain medication and prepped for flight transport to Bozeman Health. The Reach Air crew members also assisted the remaining three horseback riders get loaded up for the trip back to the trailhead. The helicopter was headed to the hospital at about 5:10.  A team of ground rescuers accompanied a concerned family member up the trail to meet the riders, and the entire group reached the trailhead safely at 6:00. The patient was to undergo surgery for a broken tibia/fibula this evening.

Sheriff Gootkin reminds people to always be prepared for the unexpected when recreating in wilderness settings. This group’s ability to call 9-1-1 from their cell phone resulted in rescuer’s ability to quickly determine the patient’s location, and to get to her in a very timely manner.


Hebgen Lake Victim Identified

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  The subject of the search last Thursday at Hebgen Lake is identified as Jeffrey Barr age 67 of Burbank, CA.  He was located in the lake Friday morning by Sheriff’s Search and Rescuers.  The cause of death has been determined as drowning.

Gallatin River Rafting Rescue

On June 25th around 6PM Gallatin County Search and Rescue was dispatched to an area of the Gallatin River between Gateway and Axtel Bridge Fishing Access Site. A man called dispatch to report that he saw a boy, around five years old, floating by himself down the river. He was wearing “red floaties” and screaming.

Members of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (Posse, Swift Water, and Heli teams), and Gallatin Gateway Fire Department arrived very quickly. They immediately began searching both sides of the river. The reporting party called back and stated that the boy’s father swam down river and rescued him from a group of strainer trees. The two were now on an island that was difficult to access.

The father-son team was part of a larger rafting party that included an adult female, a three year old, and an infant. Members of Gateway Fire located the latter three up river on the west shore.

The father-son team was reached by a Zodiac boat; and the son was transported to shore. SAR members then reported that the father was now in critical condition with no radial pulse. The Heli Short Haul Team was already in the air to assist in the search and for a contingency plan if the Zodiac could not reach the island. They were able to short haul the father to Axtel Bridge where AMR was waiting. Reach Air Ambulance arrived shortly after, and the father was flown to BDH.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind all outdoor enthusiasts that rivers can be extremely dangerous and require lots of knowledge and skill to safely navigate. This inexperienced group of rafters from Bozeman were not in the water long before they were capsized.

Sheriff Gootkin would also like to acknowledge the incredible multi-agency team effort that made this rescue successful.

Video Courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office


Canceled – Sheriff’s Office Requests Public’s Assistance Locating Sex Assault Suspect

The suspect was taken into custody near Four Corners without incident.  The Sheriff’s Office wants to thank the public for their assistance in locating him.


The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Four Corners Town Pump where a sexual assault was reported at approximately 3:00 am Monday. The suspect, Arturo Valerio Gonzalez fled the gas station by foot and may be trying to hitch-hike out of the area attempting to return to his home state of Utah. Gonzalez is a mid 40’s Hispanic male, approximately 5’5”, 240 lbs, dark hair, clean shaven, last seen wearing a blue t-shirt, dirty jeans and black shoes. If you believe you see Gonzalez, do not approach, please call the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office at 582-2100 and report his location. Tips which lead to the arrest of the suspect may be eligible for a crime stoppers reward.

Missing Man Found

The search for a 68-year-old male from Burbank, California thought to be missing from the campsite on the Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake has concluded. His body was located underwater approximately 300 feet from the shore of Hebgen Lake near his campsite.

On June 23, 2017, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue deployed additional resources in a continued search for the camper that began yesterday afternoon. Resources from Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue included the Posse, dive team, and canine teams. Additionally, a helicopter from Central Helicopters, Yellowstone National Park Rangers, Forest Service Law Enforcement, and personnel from Flathead County Sheriff’s Office with specialized underwater detection equipment responded to assist with the search.

Evidence on scene indicated that the male may have entered the water in an attempt to retrieve a small pontoon fishing boat that had blown away. The cause of death is still under investigation by a Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputy Coroner.


Madison River Rescue

On June 23rd, 2017 at 0402 hours, deputies responded to a single-vehicle crash witnessed by a semi-truck driver who was traveling east on Interstate 90.  The driver witnessed a car traveling westbound cross through the median and eastbound lanes of travel before leaving the roadway and ending up in the Madison River.  The vehicle floated down river until it became hung up on the bedrocks of the river.  The sole occupant of the vehicle was able to stand up through the sunroof of the car.  Three Forks Fire used a throw bag to get the man a life vest while Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to the scene.  Using a boat, Search and Rescue swift water rescuers were able to get the man to shore and to the waiting Three Forks Ambulance.  The man was transported to the hospital. Search and Rescue members assisted the tow company with getting the vehicle out of the river.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind drivers to pull over if they are traveling and tired.

Man Missing on Hebgen Lake

A search is ongoing for a 68-year-old male from Burbank, California, who is thought to be missing from the campsite on the Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake, approximately 3 miles north of West Yellowstone.

On June 22, 2017 at approximately 5:00 P.M., a Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office deputy investigating the report of a vehicle parked in a day use area on Madison Arm Road responded with Forest Service Law Enforcement. They found a campsite which appeared to be in use but were unable to locate any individuals present in the campsite. After a short time, they located an empty pontoon fishing boat beached on the north side of the Madison Arm. They also located some clothing on the shore of Hebgen Lake which appeared to belong to the individual associated with the campsite.

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue has responded to the area. Due to the unknown circumstances surrounding the incident, air and marine resources are currently being employed in the search.

Summer is Here

June 19 saw the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team called out for two rescues, both of which ended happily. Shortly after 4 pm, Dispatch received a call from a mountain biker on the “M” Trail. He reported that a 60-year-old woman on the trail was feeling dizzy and needed assistance. Search and Rescue volunteers and AMR responded to the scene. They reached the woman quickly and were able take her down the mountain in a one-wheel litter. When she reached the ambulance, the Bozeman woman stated that she probably did not have enough to eat or drink prior to hiking. Once she was checked out by AMR, she refused transport to the hospital.

At 4:34, Dispatch received a call for a climbing rescue. A 23-year-old male had a equipment malfunction while climbing and got stuck, approximately 25 feet above the ground. He was unhurt. He and his climbing partner were unable to clear the problem, so the second male hiked out to the trailhead and called for help. Rescuers responded and reached the stuck climber about 45 minutes after the initial call. They quickly freed the man using a Leatherman and made sure he got down safely.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind hikers to be prepared before heading out to the backcountry, even for a short outing. This includes being properly nourished and hydrated, and carrying basic emergency gear. Sheriff Gootkin would also like to thank the committed volunteers who make up the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue.