Snowmobiler Survives Night of Cold After Preparing for Worst

Snowmobiler Survives Night of Cold After Preparing for Worst

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News Specialist Stacey Butler reportingAn all night search for a missing snowmobiler has a happy ending today. Doctors say the man is alive and well because he prepared for the worst.

He was lost yesterday afternoon and overnight in the rugged mountains above Ogden. Then early this morning he flagged down a search and rescue helicopter and was flown to safety.

"We didn't know where he went. We looked for him for about an hour and a half, got more fuel and went back there to look for him again," says Terry Rettenberger.

That was at 1:30 yesterday afternoon. As night fell, so did temperatures.

"It was about 13 degrees at 11:00 last night, about three this morning it got about 3 degrees," says friend William Connett.

"It's some rough country in there, and it's all foot country."

He called his friends and told them where he was, but by the time they got there he was gone, and out of cell phone range.

"They found the sled last night, but they didn't find him. They (saw) tracks, but that was about it."

Walter Oppen had been missing for almost 20 hours.

"We were concerned about him dying. I'm being honest about that. We didn't have a very good feeling, but we kept on with our prayers and the good Lord came through," Rettenberger says.

"We found some tracks that led to the worst place you can go in a canyon, and at that point you get a little sick to your stomach, because we were like 'we can't go down there,'" Connett says.

Then a state helicopter spotted the 54-year-old Layton man.

"The helicopter from the Highway Patrol, they were able to follow his tracks down in the canyon. They were able to spot him from the air and he was standing down there waving," says Lt. Jeff Malan with the Weber County Sheriff's Office.

"He lives right next door, so he'll probably be throwing rocks up there for leaving him up there," Connett says.

Had he not worn extremely warm clothing, brought an emergency solar blanket, water, energy bars and matches, doctors say he would have suffered hypothermia, or worse.

"In other circumstances, he could have easily died, so he is very lucky as well as well-prepared," says Dr. Val Rollins with the Ogden Regional Medical Center.

Oppen told doctors he wishes he had stayed with his snowmobile. He would have been spotted last night. As a rule, experts say if you're ever lost, the best thing to do is stay with the snowmobile and wait for help.

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