On December 31, 2015, at 9:41 p.m., the West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatchreceived a 911 call from a lost snowmobiler. The caller, a 35 year old male from Belgrade Montana, reported that he and three people with him had become disoriented, after getting stuck and being unable to start one of their two snowmobiles. A female member of the party had suffered a head injury in a minor snowmobile crash earlier in the day and another female had become mildly hypothermic due to temperatures in the minus 20 degree range and improper clothing. Sheriff’s Deputies, the West Yellowstone Division of Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, and Forest Service responded.
Rescuers responded on snowmobiles to the GPS coordinates retrieved from the 911 call where they located the snowmobilers. Rescuers transported all four members of the group to Fir Ridge where a Hebgen Basin Fire Department Ambulance transported one of the females to the Big Sky Medical Center.
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, how to keep warm in changing terrain and weather conditions, and basic principles about how to care for injuries that may occur on the trail or in the backcountry. Proper clothing and properly maintained equipment should be some of the first things considered when planning a trip.