Construction Trailer Theft and Arrest

(Gallatin County, Mont.)

At 7:15 Thursday morning, September 19, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a stolen cargo trailer. Employees of a local building company reported that they had arrived at their work site on Cushing Drive to find that the trailer they use to store their tools was missing. The owners of the trailer turned to social media for help, posting photos and a description of the stolen vehicle on several of Facebook’s local marketplace pages.

Shortly after 2:00 p.m. the reporting party again contacted GCSO. A member of the Clarkston community had told him that his trailer was on Missouri View Lane and they had taken photographs of it. Deputies were notified and responded to the area.

The stolen trailer was located approximately 300 yards from where it had first been seen. But that was not all that deputies found in the area: a second trailer, half spray-painted silver, was stashed behind a tree nearby. The trailer had been reported stolen out of Manhattan the previous evening. Both trailers were secured and returned to their owners. Antonio Urbay, 51, was arrested and charged with felony theft.

Several items have been secured following the execution of a search warrant on a residence and additional warrants are being applied for. The search continues for the construction tools missing from the construction trailer. If you have any information regarding the tools, please call the Sheriff’s Office at (406) 582-2100.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the observant members of the Clarkston community who helped in locating the stolen trailers.  #####


Weather Strands Hiker on Bridger Ridge

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Saturday afternoon at 3:47, Gallatin County 911 received a call from a 45-year-old runner from Atlanta.  The runner had started at the Fairy Lake Trailhead with the ambition of running the Ridge trail but found himself disoriented and unsure of his location. He was wearing shorts and did not have a rain coat with him. His call to 911 put his location south of Naya-Nuki Peak.  Sheriff’s Search and Rescue members spoke with him on the phone and determined he was on the east side of the ridge line.  Search and Rescue personnel battled torrential downpours and were able to locate the runner.  He was given warm clothes and was able to hike out under his own power.  Once back to the trailhead the runner told the Deputy that “The professionalism and kindness of this team is amazing.  They encouraged me and really made me laugh on the way out.”  He had taken an Uber to the trailhead so a Deputy gave him a ride back to Bozeman.
Sheriff Gookin says, “It is not unusual for people to underestimate how quickly the weather can change in the back-country.  Always carry a way to stay warm and dry.”  A summer storm can arrive at any time in the mountains of Montana without much warning.
Photos courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office

Summer Dehydration on Bridger Ridge

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  Thursday evening at 7:00 911 received a call from a 23 year old mountain biker worried about being dehydrated and thought he might pass out.  The 911 center was not able to pin point his location but knew he was near Sacajawea Peak.  Search and Rescue volunteers were able to contact him by phone and have him use a link sent to his phone to get a better location which turned out to be on the west side of the Bridgers below Sacajawea.  Rescuers hiked up the trail from the Fairy Lake Trailhead to meet up with the biker who was being assisted by two hikers he encountered after the call to 911.  He was severely dehydrated but was able to continue down the trail on his own power.  Search and Rescue personal drove the victim’s vehicle back to Bozeman for him because he did not feel capable of driving.

Sheriff Gookin says,”It is not unusual for people to underestimate the amount of water needed for hiking or biking the Ridge area this time of year.”  Seasoned locals know the dry air, elevation and lack of shade up there requires much more water than you might normally take.  Everyone needs to carry enough provisions for the adventure you are seeking and to remember this is the season of hot temperatures.  He was also like to remind everyone to call for help early before the situation gets dire.

Rescue in Corbley Gulch

(Gallatin County, Mont.)

On Sunday, July 21st, around 2:24 pm, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to a backcountry rescue in the Bridger Mountains.  A 24-year-old, who was hiking alone about four miles from the Corbley Gulch Trailhead, injured her ankle.  She was unable to continue on her own power.  She contacted other recreationalists in the area who called search and rescue when they reached cell phone service.

Two motorcyclists, who came across the injured hiker, began driving her towards the trailhead.  They met responding rescue crews on the trail.  The motorcyclists transferred the hiker to rescue personnel, who transported her the rest of the way to the trailhead via a specialized rescue litter.  The hiker was able to drive herself once she was back to her car.

Sheriff Gootkin said “It’s the little things that can get you in the back country.”  Even the most prepared people can find themselves in need of a little help when out getting fresh air and exercise.  He reminds hikers to always tell someone where you are going and when you are expected to return.  We are glad to give people a hand if they have a bad day but we have to know you need it and where you are before we can.

Climbing Accident Claims Search and Rescue Member

(Gallatin and Park County Mont.)  With a heavy heart, Sheriff Brian Gootkin and Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue share that our friend and teammate Travis Swanson lost his life in a climbing accident yesterday on Mount Cowen in Park County. Travis was climbing with fellow SAR members Jackson Negri and Will Hitchcock when rockfall swept Will and Travis downslope. Jackson contacted Park County Sheriff’s Office and Gallatin County SAR teammates, who responded with specialized alpine rescue resources. With Jackson’s help, they were able to rescue Will and recover Travis.  Will is currently at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings with stable injuries.

All three climbers were extricated by GCSAR with able assistance from Park County. The highly complex rescue was executed in a skilled and efficient manner that would have made Travis proud. Travis was a significant contributor to the Alpine and Helicopter rescue teams and we owe a part of the team’s performance to the many efforts that he put into Search & Rescue. He loved spending time with friends doing things that allowed him  to excel at saving others. He demonstrated the highest level of teamwork and commitment. When good days went bad, Travis was always there to help his community.

We thank Park County for allowing us the privilege of being able to recover one of our own. We also thank Park County Sheriff, Search and Rescue, Park County Rural Fire, and Livingston Fire and Rescue for their response.

Dahl’s Funeral Home is organizing memorial arrangements.


Media Contact: Sheriff Brian Gootkin 582-2125

Photographs courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff

Travis Swanson, by Speed/Coaching + Creative

Travis Swanson during a rescue operation on Granite Peak in 2016.

Weekend Search and Rescue Activity

(Gallatin County, Mont.) The last weekend in June saw 80 Search and Rescue Volunteers spend 285 hours on three incidents. The first incident was Saturday evening when Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and Central Valley Fire were dispatched to an injured hiker in the Truman Gulch area.  The 27-year-old Bozeman woman was hiking with her fiancé and dog when she injured her knee.  When she could go no further her fiancé carried her. The terrain eventually became so steep that they could no longer make progress and he went to find help. Rescuers used a wheeled stretcher and rope belays to bring her down to a waiting Central Valley Ambulance, which took her to the hospital.  Sunday afternoon found SAR on the Gallatin River near Gateway, using boats and tracking skills to help Sheriff’s Detectives on a case. Later Sunday evening, three women and their dog had rafted from Spanish Creek past Gallatin Gateway when their raft crashed, spitting two of them and the dog out onto an island that they could not get off and the third onto shore.  Rescuers had limited access to the area and fading daylight but with the help of a landowner were able to get the women and dog back to safety. No injuries were reported. Sheriff Gootkin thanks all the dedicated volunteers who took time from their weekend to help keep people safe and support the active, outdoor lifestyle this community values.


Photo of rescue in Truman courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office

A Message from the Sheriff to Forrest Fenn Treasure Hunters

(Gallatin County, Mont.) In the last couple years, two people have died, two have been rescued near death, several have had run-ins with local and federal law enforcement, and one told his wife today he was injured but not where he was. The common denominator is that these people were all near Yellowstone National Park and they were all looking for the Forrest Fenn treasure. Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin has a message for treasure hunters: “You must know that this country is unforgiving if you don’t give it the respect it deserves. Let someone know where you are going – exactly, not some vague geographic area to keep your secret safe – and when you expect to return. Be prepared for the changing weather and wilderness conditions. Many areas have no cell phone service. Mountain streams and rivers are especially dangerous. Bears, snakes, and gravity are found in abundance in our corner of the world. We encourage everyone to vigorously pursue their outdoor passions, but think like a local. Before you go after the treasure, consider your level of skill, preparation and knowledge of the area.  Consider the volunteer hours spent searching if you need to be rescued, and the anxiety of those left at home.”

Climbing Rescue in Hyalite Canyon

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Saturday evening at 6:30 Sheriff’s Search and Rescue with Hyalite Fire Department, AMR Ambulance, Reach Air Ambulance and Central Helicopters responded to Practice Rock in Hyalite Canyon for an injured climber.  The 23 year old man from Kalispell suffered a significant head injury when he fell while climbing.  Rescuers from the Alpine Team and Posse along with some very proficient flying from Central Helicopters were able to evacuate the man to medical care in about an hour.  Sheriff Gootkin said,”This was a technically difficult rescue.  We are grateful for the skill of our search and rescue volunteers and the help from other agencies.  It is not easy to get an injured person out of that area but the SAR Team is really good at what they do.”

photo courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office