Six Spend a Cold Night in the Bridgers


(Bozeman) – A long and difficult overnight search in the northern range of the Bridger Mountains resulted in the rescue of six individuals this morning who were trapped high in the high country by in heavy snow, dropping temperatures and low visibility Saturday afternoon.


             More than 25 search and rescue workers, along with Gallatin County Sheriffs Deputies struggled with heavy snow, avalanche conditions and spotty communications for more than 15 hours to locate and then transport the individuals by helicopter.


 SAR was called Saturday afternoon to the report of hikers on Sacajawea Peak who were caught in a snow storm.  Apparently the group was in the mountainous area on a wildlife photography shoot.  The lost individuals were able to contact authorities by cell phone.  They said that they were located above Fairy Lake on the ridge line on the east side of Sacajawea Peak and that they were attempting to walk out of the area.


 The group called back about an hour later saying that they had stopped walking and were making a fire.


 SAR volunteers with skis and snow-shoes were taken to the Fairy Lake Trailhead by snowmobile to begin their search.  Due to spotty cell phone reception, searchers had a difficult time pinning down a location of the missing party.


 SAR skiers made several attempts to make their way up the Fairy Lake trail beginning at approximately 5:00 o’clock Saturday afternoon and throughout the night and early morning hours.  The search area was primarily located in the steep bowl above the lake.  The searchers reported low visibility, strong winds and snow slides in the search area.  The skiers were unable to locate the missing party.


 Heavy snow and low clouds prevented the use of aircraft Saturday afternoon and evening.  After weather conditions cleared during the early morning Sunday, helicopters from Summit Air Ambulance and the U.S Air Force were able to operate above the search area.


 Just before sunrise Sunday the Air Force helicopter spotted the missing party at approximately 8,200 feet, near the Bridger Range ridgeline.  Three individuals are flown to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport by Carisch Air Service and three were flown out by the Air Force.  All six individuals declined further medical treatment at the airport.


 “It has been a long night for everyone,” said Lt. Jeff Wade of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department.  “But we had a good outcome.  The lost subjects were located, our volunteers are really tired, but all safe.  Our thanks go out to all the agencies involved, including the Air Force, Summit Air Ambulance and Carisch Air.


 “Everyone worked together very well under dangerous and difficult circumstance,” said Wade.  “Successes like these are due to a great deal of hard work and coordination.  We appreciate everyone’s help.”


 “This is a good time to remember that weather in the high country can change turn deadly very quickly.  If you’re planning an outing, you need to remember the following…”


 Keep an eye on the weather

  • Dress for conditions
  • Have a charged cell phone with you
  • Bring a GPS unit with you
  • Bring extra clothing, food and water
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back
  • Have a way to make a fire


 For further information contact:  Lt. Jeff Wade, GCSO






Responders Learn Special Skills to Help Persons with Mental Illness

Press Release – For Immediate Release – 2-16-12

Follow-up contact: Sheriff Brian Gootkin 582-2125

 This week First Responders from 14 agencies and nursing students are learning special skills and resources available to help persons with mental health illness.

 The training is called CIT or Crisis Intervention Training and is a partnership with first responders, Detention Officers, 911 operators and mental health care providers. 

 Sheriff Gootkin states that this program has been in place for over 4 years now and has proven to be very effective.  The training not only makes contacts with persons in mental health crisis safer for responders but much safer for the person with the mental illness. 

 The 40-hour training consists of lectures on mental illness, legal information, pharmacology information, communication skills, community resources, a field trip to the State Hospital and practical exercises.  The training culminates with role playing scenarios Friday that are designed to test the skills and information gained through the week.  It is being held a the Gallatin County Coordination Center and wraps up Friday afternoon.

Open Burning Begins March 1st

GCEM Header Image
Bozeman, MT – Open burning in the State of Montana begins March 1st.  Starting on the 1st residents of Gallatin County will be able to activate the required $15 Gallatin County Burn Permit to conduct burning.  Permits can be purchased online at or in person at:
-Gallatin County Treasurer’s Office, 311 West Main-Room 103 in Bozeman
-Bozeman Fire Station 1, 34 North Rouse in Bozeman
-Central Valley Fire District Station 1, 205 East Main in Belgrade
-Manhattan Fire Department, 222 Main in Manhattan
-Three Forks Public Library, 607 North Main in Three Forks
-Hebgen Basin Fire District Station 1, 400 Yellowstone in West Yellowstone
After permits are purchased, or renewed, the permit is good until November 30, 2012 when burn season closes.  These permits need to be activated each day a permit holder burns either online at, or by automated telephone at 1-877-306-2876.
Citizens can obtain additional information on burning and current burn locations in Gallatin County at

Search and Rescue Works on the Weekends

 Press Release 2-14-12 at 9:37 a.m.

On February 9, 2012, at 4:38 p.m. Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to a report of an injured snowmobiler approximately four miles west of West Yellowstone near the South Fork of the Madison River. 

Personnel from the West Yellowstone division of Gallatin County Search and Rescue and the Gallatin County Sheriffs Office conducted the rescue.

A 27-year-old male from Fargo, North Dakota was riding a snowmobile off-trail when he hit an embankment, which resulted in a broken leg.  He was transported out of the backcountry by the rescue team and then transferred to a Hebgen Basin Fire Department ambulance.  He was transported to the Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho.

On Sunday 2-12-12 at about 4:00 members of Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol received a report of an overdue 16 year old female skier.  The Bozeman resident had failed to meet up with her party at the end of the run that day.  Patrollers found tracks that left the ski are boundary and contacted the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue.  Fortunately most members of Ski Patrol also volunteer for Search and Rescue and were able to transition to the role of rescuer outside the boundary.  They followed her tracks and found her lost but unharmed.  She was transported back to the ski area and reunited with her friends. 

Sheriff Gootkin reminds skiers that areas outside the ski area boundary are not patrolled and not managed for avalanche danger.  Skiing out of bounds has many risks including being trapped by terrain features and avalanches.

Snowmobiler Rescued South of West Yellowstone


  For Immediate Release 2-8-12 at 9:15 a.m.

     On 7 February 2012 Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone was notified of a snowmobile accident approximately seventeen miles south of West Yellowstone near the border of Yellowstone National Park.  A thirty-eight year old male from Wisconsin had crashed his snowmobile and suffered a possible dislocated or broken hip.  Members of West Yellowstone Search and Rescue and two Yellowstone National Park Rangers responded to the scene.    Air Idaho medical helicopter was requested and responded as well.  The patient was located, packaged and flown by helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for treatment.


Sheriff’s Office Seeks Infomation on I-90 Woman

Press Release For Immediate Release 2-7-12 at 11:50

Sheriff’s Deputies, Search and Rescue, Manhattan and Central Valley Fire Depts were searching Tuesday night in the area of the Central Park Bridge on I-90.  Several 911 calls about 9:30 p.m. reported an unclothed woman with a towel wrapped around her head standing in the passing lane of I-90 east bound on the Gallatin River Bridge.  Deputies and Highway Patrol were on scene in less than 5 minutes but were unable to locate the woman in the area.  Specialized search and rescue units including search dogs and thermal imaging cameras were dispatched to the scene and a detailed search of the area was conducted without success. 

Sheriff Gootkin asks that anyone with information related to this event call 582-2100.

Rescue teams continue the search effort as of midnight.  30 emergency responders are currently at the scene. 

Follow-up questions can be referred to Sheriff Gootkin at 582-2125


Dudley Creek Search

Press Release
For Immediate Release 2-6-12

A 36 year old Big Sky man was reported missing from his home on February 5, 2012. A Deputy responded, began investigating the case, and activated Sheriff’s search and rescue teams.

Search Dogs checked the area of Dudley Creek Road for nearly two hours before finding the missing man at the bottom of drainage. Ashley Blake age 36 of Big Sky was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation by the Sheriff/Coroner determined Blake died from exposure.


February 1, 2012

For More Information:
Sheriff Brian Gootkin

Pass the Keys to a Sober Driver
Extra Patrols will be out Super Bowl weekend to prevent impaired driving

Bozeman, MT — The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office will be stepping up traffic patrols through the weekend to ensure everyone’s Super Bowl game plan includes a sober ride home.

“Drinking tends to be a big part of Super Bowl time,” said Sheriff Brian Gootkin. “We’re not out to stop the fun, but we will be out to stop impaired drivers.”

The extra patrols concentrate on keeping impaired drivers off the road, deterring speeding and encouraging the use of seat belts and child restraints. Sheriff Gootkin stressed the extra enforcement presence is to keep everyone safe on Montana’s roads. He also offered these tips:

If hosting a Super Bowl party:
• Before kickoff, make it clear that only sober guests will be allowed to drive. Arrange for ride sharing or sober rides home, and be prepared to take the keys away from those who shouldn’t drive.
• Recognize designated sober drivers in unique ways, like the best seats to watch the game.
• Serve plenty of food.
• Offer a variety of non-alcoholic choices like soft drinks, juice, mocktails, and water.
• Do not serve alcohol to anyone younger than 21 years of age.
• Determine ahead of time when you’ll stop serving alcohol and offer coffee and dessert. NFL stadiums stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter.
• Be prepared for guests to stay the night if necessary.
• Serve the drinks yourself, and stay sober so that you know who may be reaching the limit.
• Avoid “pushing” drinks on your guests or mixing strong drinks.
• Do not serve alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated.

If attending a Super Bowl party or watching the game away from home:
• Plan your sober ride home. That could mean a designated sober driver who is out with you, or one on standby to call after the game.
• Pace yourself. Be sure to eat plenty and have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks.

“We’d rather everyone chooses to have a sober driver than to risk a DUI or worse,” said Sheriff Gootkin. “But if you choose to drive impaired, we will arrest you.”
The additional patrols are funded by the Montana Department of Transportation Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs (STEP) grants.

Bridger Range Skier Rescue

For Immediate Release

On 01-31-12 at about 2:00 p.m. the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol, Bridger Canyon Fire and AMR responded to the out of bounds area of just north of Bridger Bowl for an injured skier.  The 24 yr old Bozeman man injured his leg after falling on hard pack of ice and was unable to move.  He was able to call 911 from his cell phone.  Bridger Ski Patrol, that are also SAR Volunteers, were able to reach the skier very quickly and with support from the rest of the SAR team transport him down the mountain to a waiting AMR ambulance.  He was transported to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. 

Gallatin County Sheriff/Coroner’s Office

On 01-31-12, at approximately 1408 hours, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Gallatin County Search and Rescue, Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol, Bridger Canyon Fire and AMR responded to the out of bounds area of Bridger Bowl. An adult male skier injured his leg and called 911 from his cell phone.

The injured skier had fallen on a hard pack of ice when he injured his leg and was unable to move. Bridger Ski Patrol was able to reach the skier and transport him down to AMR standing by. AMR then transported the skier to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.