Father and son rescued in Gallatin County after becoming lost in snowstorm

Posted at 3:40 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 20:42:26-05

BOZEMAN – A Utah man and his 12-year-old son were flown to the University of Utah Burn Center for frostbite injuries after being rescued in the Spanish Peaks area on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

According to a press release from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., a woman in Utah reported that her husband and 12-year-old son were overdue from a hiking trip in the Spanish Peaks area.

It was reportedly snowing heavily and temperatures were below zero when a deputy was able to plow his way through snowdrifts and reach the end of the road where the pair’s vehicle was thought to be.

At 8 p.m., the deputy found the vehicle abandoned five miles from Highway 191 and dispatched Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Units from the Valley and Big Sky. Twenty snowmobilers and skiers responded promptly, knowing that conditions made it critical to find the pair quickly.

Courtesy: Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office

At 10 p.m., the boy was located between the main road and the Spanish Creek Cabin by a search team. Reportedly hypothermic and confused, rescuers took him back to the highway where an ambulance was waiting while others continued the search for his father.

At the hospital, a Sheriff’s SAR Deputy interviewed the boy as he warmed up and became more coherent. Using landmarks and estimated times, the Deputy was able to narrow down an area where searchers could find the father.

The boy described being able to walk on top of the snow while his father was sinking past his knees. As the boy got further ahead of his dad he eventually lost contact and became disoriented, but headed in the general direction of their car.

Meanwhile, SAR members at headquarters in the valley were using cell phone forensic techniques and GIS data to narrow down likely search areas.
Courtesy: Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office

At 1:15 a.m. Wednesday, rescuers on skis located the father near the Pioneer Falls Trail, a few miles from the Spanish Cr. Cabin. He was conscious but hypothermic. They transported him using a rescue toboggan to the cabin, then by snowmobile rescue sled to an ambulance.

Courtesy: Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Gootkin wants to thank the world-class volunteers and Deputy Sheriffs who gave the incident a mostly positive outcome.

“Our community values its Sheriff’s Office and SAR volunteers and incidents like this remind us why,” Gootkin said in the release. “This is a busy time of year, with January seeing 16 SAR incidents, but the members of the Sheriff’s Office family are here and ready to keep this community a safe and healthy place to live.”

While responding to this call, one of the search and rescue volunteers was struck by a white Chevy pickup that ran a stop sign and then left the scene of the crash, leaving its grill behind. Anyone with information is asked to contact Bozeman Police.