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Search for Snowmobiler Ends; Not A Real Emergency

Search for Snowmobiler Ends; Not A Real Emergency

Posted - Feb. 8, 2004 at 5:28 p.m.



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Jill Atwood reporting Rescue crews in Tooele County spent the weekend looking for a missing snowmobiler.

But it turns out that search was just a costly miscommunication.

The caller was hard to understand. That's where the miscommunication likely comes into play. It turns out the man was very intoxicated and he was in trouble, just not lost in the wilderness.

The man claimed he was pinned under a snowmobile out in the desolate area of Rush Valley. Turns out he had fallen off his porch into a snowbank and had twisted his ankle.

The sheriff's office is obviously extremely frustrated to learn this after all the physical and emotional energy expended Saturday night by searchers. They even put their own lives on the line going out in blizzard-like conditions, only to find nothing.

Sheriff Frank Park/Tooele County Sheriff's Office: "I'm sure there are a lot of my search and rescue people that didn't sleep well last night. I know I didn't and I know my patrol people didn't. You go over in your mind, 'Did I do everything? Did I search everything? Is there something that we're leaving out?'"

Dispatchers thought the initial call was a little weird, but they have to take all these calls seriously.

The good news is no one is stranded out in the wilderness. The bad news-- a lot of money spent and a lot of worrying about nothing, just a guy with a twisted ankle.

Despite the extensive search effort, the man will not likely face any charges because the sheriff says it was a legitmate 911 call.

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