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Missing family rescued

Hypothermic man found in Hog Park

Melissa Roddy

A Baggs, Wyo., family of five that was reported missing Thursday was found in the Hog Park area of the Routt National Forest, just south of the Colorado-Wyoming border.

Four members of the family were found Friday morning after walking an estimated 10 miles from their wrecked pickup, but a man in his 30s, who had been separated from them, was not discovered until Saturday morning, said Routt County Search and Rescue incident commander Jim Vail.

A search dog called in from the Teton Canine Squad found the man, who was naked, semiconcious and severely hypothermic, in a drainage area near the Whiskey Creek Trail. According to initial reports, a Flight for Life helicopter from Grand Junction was dispatched to rescue the man, and a Steamboat ambulance with advanced life-support capability was called to help stabilize him until the helicopter arrived at a rendezvous point in Clark.

It was unclear whether the man was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center for treatment or flown to Flight for Life’s home-base hospital, St. Mary’s in Grand Junction.

Details of the family’s disappearance are sketchy, and the Carbon County, Wyo., Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the case, could not be reached Saturday for comment. According to one report, before becoming separated, the family found a sheepherder’s camp and looked unsuccessfully for a cell phone to call for help.

After the family was reported missing Thursday, a private Zephyr helicopter was dispatched. From the air, the wreckage of the pickup was spotted near Hog Park, Vail said.

Routt County Search and Rescue was asked to join the search Friday, and the Civil Air Patrol took to the air Saturday to continue looking for the lost man, Vail said. In all, five entities were involved in the search, including about a dozen Routt County Search and Rescue members. Because of the man’s position in the drainage and because he was unresponsive, he could not be located from the air, Vail said.

Vail credited a Carbon County deputy and the Teton search dog, a border collie on his first certified mission, for finding the man.

“It was a very confusing search because we had so many conflicting stories to go by, as far as where he was and where the family split up,” Vail said. “The thing that really saved him was a hunch from a Carbon County deputy. Based on what he said, we sent the dogs down a drainage.”


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