Man airlifted to hospital after OHV crash in North Routt

Around 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, a side-by-side off-highway vehicle carrying four people rolled over near Farwell Mountain, north of Clark.

North Routt Fire responded. Only the male driver sustained significant injuries. He was airlifted by Classic Air Medical to a medical facility.

“Because of the pain level and type of injury, it was a much smoother and faster ride in a helicopter than in our (off-highway vehicle), bouncing back down the road five miles to the village to get in the ambulance,” said Mike Swinsick, chief at North Routt Fire Protection District.

According to Swinsick, none of the four people in the accident live in the area. 

The accident happened along Forest Service Road 409, a four-wheel-drive accessible road that approaches the base of Farwell Mountain. 

It took North Routt Fire around 35 minutes to get a crew to the scene of the accident, and about another hour to prepare the driver for evacuation. Emergency medical personnel made a splint on the driver’s arm while waiting for him to be evacuated.

Because the driver was large in stature, the helicopter crew decided to burn off fuel to lessen the cargo weight, which Swinsick said is common practice for air medical transport.

“When they get up above 9,500, 10,000 feet, they don’t have the lift capacity that they would down at a lower elevation,” Swinsick said. “Once they got everything loaded up and all that, (the helicopter pilot) needed to cook off a few more pounds of fuel. So he basically just hovered above the ground full throttle for a few minutes to eat up that extra weight.” 

Swinsick said he’s seen some rescue operations where members of the responding medical team will stay behind to lighten the helicopter’s load. 

“Usually, the flight paramedic gets the short straw to either hike out or get a ride out with the rescue crews back to town,” Swinsick said.

Swinsick encourages people to be careful when venturing out into the backcountry by bringing appropriate protective equipment, to prepare for inclement weather and to have a reliable way to communicate or send GPS coordinates to 911. 

The people in the accident were able to send GPS coordinates to first-responders, which helped Swinsick and his team respond as quickly as they did. 

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