(Gallatin County, Mont.)
On the morning of November 14, 2017, the Bozeman Police Dept. took a missing person report of a 69 year old female who was a day overdue from her census duties. She told a co-worker that she would be doing demographic surveys north of Belgrade, possibly in the Dry Creek, Blacktail, Maudlow, and/or Rocky Mountain Road areas. Co-workers and family had not been able to reach her by phone and were concerned for her safety. Deputies knew the described areas to be remote, rural areas of Gallatin County, and requested that Search and Rescue personnel be deployed to help look for the female and her vehicle.
SAR resources were paged at approximately 1:45, and began to search roads in the Dry Creek and Rocky Mountain Road areas. A Search and Rescue Deputy met a volunteer rescuer in the Sixteen Mile Creek area when, at 3:00, they stopped a truck coming down the road from further up the Sixteen Mile Road. The missing census worker was with the driver, and was found to be fairly thirsty, but in good health and spirits.
The female reported that she got stuck in deep snow on the unmaintained road at approximately 3:20 on Monday the 13th. She did not have cell service, and decided to stay with her vehicle until someone came by. The female had some food and extra clothing and a sleeping bag, and was able to stay fairly comfortable while she waited through the night. She was preparing to spend another night when the male came upon her vehicle and gave her a ride. The deputy transported the female back to her residence after making sure co-workers and family were notified that she was ok.
Sheriff Gootkin notes that the female did several things right, including traveling with items to help during an emergency, and staying with her vehicle instead of trying to hike out in unfamiliar country. Moving away from vehicles or other last known points makes things more challenging for rescuers, and a vehicle can serve as adequate shelter during inclement weather.