Beaverhead County Search and Rescue News
Submitted by: Mel Rice-Public Relations
The Beaverhead Search and Rescue had a very busy opening weekend of the general hunting season. It started with a call out the day before the season started, Friday October 21 at 3:00 PM. A 67 year old California hunter was out scouting and did not return to camp. He was 4 hours overdue. The individual was diabetic, and had high blood pressure. These things always add to the urgency of the incident. He had no idea about Montana nor the area he was camped in and going to hunt. Before search parties reached the area, the lost individual had been located and was safe. Search teams returned to the building.
Incident #2- On Saturday October 22 at 1:43 PM the BVHD S&R was called out for a rescue of a hunter out of Cascade, Montana who had sustained serious injuries in a horse accident. The horse had fallen and rolled on the individual. The location of this rescue was 2.5 miles from the trail head in the East Fork of Blacktail Creek WSA. With adverse weather conditions at best this would turn into an all-night affair. Because of the conditions any opportunity to use Life Flight services or Two Bear services was out of the question. With low clouds, 8 inches of snow on the ground and still snowing, it would turn into an old fashion human carry out of the injured party. The first rescue teams headed up the trail at 5:50 PM on foot. Members Brad Wagner and Tara Remely had an ambulance with medical personnel Shelly King and Shara King as close to the scene as possible. This turned out to be six miles from the accident.
S&R member Shane Puyear and his son Parker were the first to arrive on scene at 6:30 PM. When they arrived, other members of the hunting party were with the injured hunter and had built a fire and were keeping him as comfortable as possible. Parker was given the immediate task of gathering fire wood from the area to keep everyone as warm as possible until the remaining rescue teams arrived with necessary equipment to transport the individual out. Shane was evaluating the immediate situation and started assessing the man’s injuries. Upon arrival of the other teams; Alex Dunn, Julia Clark, Evan Helle, and Wes Helle, at 8:42 PM with medical bag and the ”E-Mule”, further assessment of injuries was completed and the individual was packaged on a litter and loaded onto the “E-Mule”. The long 4 plus hour trek out to a waiting ambulance began at 9:15 PM. Kolby Malesich and Steve Mock were heading in on the trail to assist the extrication team and met up with them at 11:48 PM. While coming out with the injured man they encountered other hunters that were trying to get out of the back country that were in need of assistance as well. It was turning into a multiple rescue incident with the injured individual being the priority.
The “E-Mule” is an electric two man cart for extricating victims out of the back country. But because of the heavy wet deep snow conditions the “E-Mule” was not able to operate quite as well as it was designed. However, it did prove to be very effective in providing stability for the litter and during resting time for the rescuers. They used it the entire way out. There had to be 3 feet of snow on the ground when they left the accident site, diminishing to approximately 2 feet as they got closer to the trailhead. It was extremely slow going because of the conditions, terrain, etc. They would move in short spurts, 10 to 20 yards at a time and then rest. The conditions were very undesirable; not only because of the snow but also the wind and pitch dark conditions.
With lots of other hunting camps in the area and the rescue team becoming totally exhausted, Tara Remely went around to all the camps and asked for assistance in getting the victim out. Many hunters got up out of their nice warm comfort zones and headed up the trail to assist with the last tedious mile. This is one of the hardest parts of the whole trail. Once back to the” trail head” at 1:30 AM, the injured party was moved to the ATV rescue buggy and taken the final 2 miles to the waiting ambulance and medical crew. The victim was turned over to medical personnel at the ambulance at 2:20 AM. After arriving in Dillon, the injured man was life flighted by fixed wing to Missoula where he is reported in fair condition. He sustained a brain bleed, broken back, broken neck, broken nose, and broken ribs. Thanks to the dedication of your Beaverhead Search and Rescue this individual will live to see another day. The incident was called with all S&R members back in town at 5:00 AM. This was a very intense and time consuming event.
Other S&R members that were at the trail head taking care of other necessary business involved with this rescue were: Brian Vinson, Jennifer McKay, Jason Ericksen, Kolby Malesich, Brad Wagner, Tara Remely, and Steve Mock. Non-members assisting were: Parker Puyear and Wes Helle This was a great team effort and consequently saved a gentleman’s life. Those working the command center for all of the happenings that eventful evening were: Lawrence Morrisroe, Park Scott, and Clint Rouse. .
When the Blacktail horse incident was completed at 5:00 AM Sunday morning and the injured party was on his way to Barrett Memorial Hospital, members involved in this all night ordeal wanted to get home as well. Because of conditions at that time it was decided to leave equipment trailers and other equipment at the trailhead until later that day after it had hopefully quit snowing and there was day light to work in. So later that morning a refreshed group of members returned to get everything off the mountain. It just made sense not to fight with all that when everyone was exhausted.
Kudos to those who went in later that day to get the equipment left behind. The roads were horrible, the snow was deep, and with the mass exodus of hunters trying to get out of there, it was a zoo. With us trying to get up the East Fork on the narrow road with snow piled up on either side, and with hunters trying to get out on the same road, it made for lots of traffic jams and stuck vehicles resulting in another long day. All the trailers and vehicles made it home.
Those making the trek back to gather equipment and vehicles were Brian Vinson, Mark Smith, Clint Rouse, Shane Puyear, Parke Scott, Jennifer McKay, Tater McKay, Steve Mock, and Donnie Keltz.
Incident #3- At 9:46 PM another “InReach” SOS call came in for a 59 year old hunter from Whitefish. The six gentlemen camped in the Selway Creek area up Bloody Dick Creek reported one of their party had not returned to camp. The Search and Rescue managers at the building who were attending the horse accident rescue, paged for more members. Tommy Goins, Cody Schnee, Cole Cottom, John Helle, Parke Scott and Clint Rouse were deployed to search for the lost individual. Shortly after deployment the reporting party called back to S&R command that they had found their missing party member. It is with sad and sympathetic hearts that we report the passing of this individual. Apparently he had a heart attack. Clint Rouse and Parke Scott returned to the command center to continue assisting with the other rescue. The remaining team members continued on to the hunter’s camp to assist with retrieval of the deceased man. It turned out to be a long night for them as well having to wait for the Under Sheriff/coroner David Wendt to arrive and complete things they need to do in this type of situation. Our condolences go out to the friends and family of this young man.
Incidents #4 & 5- On Sunday morning October 23, we were informed of two other “InReach” SOS hits that turned out to be nothing other than false alarms. Thank the Lord for small favors. The season is just beginning. With more weather predicted to come in on Wednesday, please make sure you are prepared for any number of different situations. Also, make sure you have all necessary equipment for your vehicles. Chains are an absolute must for the conditions we are experiencing now. And I doubt things will improve anytime in the near future.
It should be noted at this time that all the searches/rescues during this time frame and the last 6 months have come in from reporting parties that are in the area of the lost/hurt individual rather than from family members who are at home and don’t have a clue about the missing/injured person’s whereabouts. Beaverhead Search and Rescue would like to recommend to any and all who enjoy going to the mountains whether to fish, hunt, hike or just joy ride get yourselves an “InReach” or “Spot”. Both can be used to get assistance from your local Search and Rescue when you need it. The nice thing about them is it also gives us a location of the reporting party. Therefore, we know where to find you. Coming to you from your Beaverhead Search and Rescue who is “In the Business of Saving Live”.
P.C. Beaverhead Search & Rescue