MISSOULA – A 69-year-old hunter was rescued Monday after reportedly being trapped under his ATV for about 44 hours in the Clark Canyon area in Beaverhead County.
The man is now in a Missoula hospital.
The Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office says since the opening of general hunting season over the weekend, it has received four calls for search and rescue.
Two of the calls required a response from Search and Rescue crews, a Life Flight helicopter and crews from the Montana National Guard.
In one case, a man was involved in an ATV crash in the Gravelly Mountains. In another, a man was trapped under his ATV in the Clark Canyon area.
The other two calls were resolved without full deployments.
On Friday, Oct. 19 at 12:27 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office was notified of an injured 58-year-old man who was involved in an ATV accident in the south end of the Gravelly Mountains. Deputy Wyrick, Undersheriff Chase and Search and Rescue Incident Commander Maddox coordinated with an individual on scene by cellular phone. Lifeflight was requested and a helicopter was dispatched from Rexburg, Idaho. A hasty SAR team was dispatched as well as the Lima Ambulance.
The helicopter was on the scene within 90 minutes of the call for help. The Lifeflight crew evacuated the injured man and transported him from the scene treating his critical injuries.
Then on Sunday, Oct. 21, at approximately 1 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office was notified of an overdue 69-year-old man from the Bitterroot who was hunting and camping in the Clark Canyon area. The hunter’s campsite was located, but the hunter and his ATV were not there.
A ground and air search were started and the Beaverhead Search and Rescue unit was deployed but the searchers did not locate the hunter. The search area was expanded on Monday and the Montana Army National Guard was contacted for assistance with the aerial search by SAR incident commander Brian Vinson.
A UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter deployed from Helena with five soldiers. The helicopter picked up Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Mulkey at 12:10 and at 13:30 a ground team located the missing hunter and notified the helicopter crew.
The hunter was found in a ravine pinned under his ATV. He had been there for about 44 hours and was in critical condition. A flight medic stabilized the man and he was flown to Barrett Memorial Hospital in Dillon, where he was treated and eventually transferred to St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula.
“The assistance of the Lifeflight crew and the Montana Army National Guard crew were absolutely crucial to the success of the rescue of the injured hunters,” said Beaverhead County Sheriff Franklin D. Kluesner, II. “I am grateful for their rapid deployment and willingness to assist.”