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Former Utah rescuer dies in snowmobile accident

By Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio | Posted - Jan. 14, 2020 at 8:38 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — A tragic weekend for the Wasatch County Search and Rescue Unit. One of its former members died in a snowmobile accident.

Doug Baker had volunteered with the unit for 15 years before he moved to Montana. His wife, Jodi Withers, posted a message on Facebook saying he had found another group of friends to go riding with, and they quickly became like brothers to him.

She said anyone who knew Baker knew how passionate he was about riding.

“It sounds so cliché, but he truly was doing what he truly loved,” she posted.

The accident happened in southwest Montana, but his former teammates don’t know what led up to it. Wasatch County Search and Rescue Cpt. Cam Kohler said it just shows how dangerous snowmobiling can sometimes be, even for highly skilled riders like Baker.

“In rough terrain that’s constantly changing, the unexpected can happen,” Kohler said.

He said rescuing people stranded in the snow can be almost addictive, and that Baker was one of the best at doing it. Baker frequently would be one of the first volunteers to arrive when someone needed help.

“In the middle of the night, in the freezing cold, in a blinding snowstorm … it didn’t matter. Doug was one of the first guys,” Kohler said, adding, “Doug had a passion for snowmobiling. He loved snowmobiling in the winter and he especially loved going out on his snowmobile to help others.”

It sounds so cliche, but he truly was doing what he truly loved.

–Jodi Withers

Even when conditions were especially bad, Kohler said Baker wouldn’t hesitate.

“There were times when we would hit Strawberry Reservoir when it was 30 below zero. We’re heading out into that and most people are running for home when it gets that cold,” he said.

Paul Nelson

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