BOZEMAN, Mont. - The following is a media release from the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department:
Hunters lost in bad weather Saturday and a skier injured Sunday kept Sheriff's Search and Rescue workers very busy most of the weekend.
SAR responded Saturday night to the report of a pair of hunters missing in the Olson Creek area, east of the Bridgers, south of Brackett Creek. The hunters lost their way during a snow storm. When they were 10 hours overdue, The Sheriff was called.
Searchers spent the night attempting to locate the pair who were not prepared for making fire or spending the night outdoors. To keep warm, the hunters kept walking throughout the night. They traveled north and ended up in the Skunk Creek area Sunday morning.
SAR workers located the pair at about 5:00 this morning. Other than being cold and wet, they were not injured.
Late Sunday morning a party of three skiing in the Hollywood Basin area between Fairy Lake and Frasier Lake, north of Bridger Bowl, were caught in an avalanche. After they were able to extricate themselves from the slide, they discovered that one of the skiers had suffered a hip injury that made it unable for him to walk out of the area.
20 SAR volunteers with snowmobiles, four-wheelers and skis deployed to the area and two rescue skiers were flown to the search area by Summit Air Ambulance.
At just after 2:00 p.m. Sunday, SAR personnel got to the skiers and began patient care. The 53-year old male was found to have injuries to a hip and a knee. Two hours later SAR workers carried the patient out of the area by litter and 4×4 truck to meet up with AMR ambulance which then transported the patient to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.
"This is all about good outcomes," said Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin. "Despite the fact that our SAR personnel basically worked back-to-back calls and were up all night, the hunters and the skiers made it home. Once again a big thanks to our SAR volunteers for all their hard work."
"And a big thank you to Summit Air Ambulance for their help today as well," said Sheriff Gootkin.
Sheriff Gootkin says there are a couple of important safety messages that come out of these incidents: For hunters, as we get into the winter season in Southwest Montana, anyone spending time in the back-country, you need extra clothing, extra food, and a way to make fire. Also, a fully charged cell phone is essential along with a GPS so you can know where you are.
And if you do get turned around in the back-country, stay put and make a fire. It will keep you warm and will make you visible to our searchers.
As for the skiers, they knew where they were, and they had good communications. SAR personnel got to them within a few hours.
"Look at the contrast," said Sheriff Gootkin. "It took SAR personnel most of the night to find the hunters…in the case of the skiers, we got resources to them in a matter of hours. Good preparation ahead of time can help us get to you quickly," said Sheriff Gootkin.