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Man survives night in brutal storm after snowmobile gets stuck in Wasatch County backcountry

By Sean Moody, KSL TV | Posted - Apr 13th, 2019 @ 11:06am


3 photos

HEBER CITY — A Utah man was rescued after his snowmobile got stuck and he had to spend a night out in a snowstorm in Wasatch County.

Commander Kam Kohler of the Wasatch County Search and Rescue Team said two snowmobilers were riding in the area of Nobletts Trailhead.

When a snowstorm blew in, the two were caught in white-out conditions and became separated. One of them was able to get to cell service and call 911 to try to find the other.

Kohler said the team responded around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evening. Conditions, he said, were bad.

“Visibility up on the ridgeline, because of 20-30 mile an hour winds, was about 10 feet so you just couldn’t see very far,” he said.

Searchers used GPS to make their way across the area trying to find the man, but had no success.

Around 2:00 a.m. Thursday morning, the teams called off the operation for the night.

Kohler said rescuers hate coming home empty-handed.

“Somebody’s in trouble. Somebody’s on the mountain. When you’re search and rescue, it doesn’t feel very good to be sleeping in your bed when you know he’s up there in trouble,” he said.

The teams headed back up at 6:00 a.m. Thursday morning.

As they were heading up the mountain, Kohler said they found the man, who was coming down the mountain.

They offered him food and water and got him to safety.

Kohler said the man had walked about a mile trying to find help after his snowmobile got stuck. Eventually, he said, the man dug a hole in the snow to ride out the storm.

Occasionally, Kohler said, the man got up to walk around to keep warm.

Wasatch County Search and Rescue Team Commander Kam Kohler. Photo: John Perry, KSL TV

“He was in great shape this morning. Hungry and cold and tired, because you don’t sleep very well under a tree in the middle of the winter, but he did a good job,” Kohler said.

Kohler said spring can be deceptive because conditions in the valley are pleasant, but conditions can change quickly in the mountains. He said they have been called out more often over the last year.

He wants people to take extra time to prepare for possible emergencies before heading into the backcountry.

“If you’re going to go out and enjoy the mountains in Utah, I don’t care what time of year it is, it can even snow in July, but especially in the spring when you think it’s going to be nice, you’ve got to know before you go out and be prepared for any outcome,” Kohler said.

Photos

Sean Moody

KSL Weather Forecast