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Helena woman recounts life-saving experience

“All three of us sat here and just prayed, but we got through the night okay.”
Sandy Hyer
Posted at 9:42 AM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 12:26:51-05

Sandy Hyer says she feels lucky and grateful after she was rescued after spending more than a day out in the cold, west of Helena.

She is now recovering at St. Peter’s Health in Helena.

She was airlifted there Tuesday, when first responders reached her.

Hyer says she went for a drive outside of Avon on Sunday afternoon with her fiancé Eldon Hochstetler, and a friend, Jeff Purdy.

“We decided on Sunday was such a beautiful day, that we were going to go for a ride and possibly get a little Christmas tree.”

But in the Nevada Creek area, Hyer says their truck began to slide, and crashed into a tree, near an embankment.

“If that tree wasn’t there, we probably wouldn’t have been found until next spring.”

They weren’t able to move their vehicle, and didn’t have food or water. After the battery died, they were without heat.

“All three of us sat here and just prayed, but we got through the night okay.”

On Tuesday, they decided to walk out and try to reach help. Hochstetler says he was eventually able to get cell service and call for help.

Shortly after, he found a rancher who was also able to assist.

The Avon-Elliston Quick Response Team, Montana Highway Patrol, Powell County Sheriff’s Office, Powell County EMS, and Life Flight all responded.

Hyer says she had hypothermia, a fractured ankle, and some frostbite on her fingers. Hochstetler and Purdy say they had frostbite on their feet, but all three say they are improving.

Hyer said they’re thankful for the help they got.

“Right here at Christmas time, it shows the Christmas spirit, and how kind people are to get together and help three strangers.”