Rescued man still at YVMC | SteamboatToday.com
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Rescued man still at YVMC

Christine Metz

— A man who spent three nights in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forrest was in fair condition Monday at the Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Steve Williams, 35 of Baggs, Wyo., was found Saturday morning about eight miles from where his truck was parked in Wyoming, Carbon County Sheriff Jerry Colson said.

When the Teton County Dog Team found Williams in the Whiskey Creek drainage in Routt County, he was naked and had cuts, abrasions and scrapes to his legs and feet. He was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration.

On Saturday morning, Williams was carried about a third of a mile by stretcher to a waiting ambulance where he was transported to Clark and then flown by helicopter to the Yampa Valley Medical Center, Colson said. When brought into the hospital, Williams was admitted into an intensive care unit, the sheriff’s department said.

Twelve members of Routt County Search and Rescue, including a dog team, were part of the search Saturday.

Williams’ three children, Sierra, 10, Jacklyn, 8, and James, 7, and his girlfriend, Christina Harrington, 23, were found Friday after spending two nights in the woods. A passing motorist found the four standing on Forest Road 550 near the Wyoming/Colorado state line in southern Carbon County. They were about five miles from where their vehicle was parked.

Reports indicate the group was going fishing and was traveling on a rough, two-track road when Williams stopped driving because of an oil leak. Deputies noticed their yellow, Ford Ranger pickup Wednesday afternoon parked in the Roaring Fork area of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.

About 100 feet from the road where the Williams stopped was another well-maintained U.S. Forest Service road.

Sometime Thursday, Williams and his 10-year-old daughter, Sierra, split from the group, believing they would have a better chance to get help, Colson said. Later, Sierra laid down to take a nap in the woods and when she woke up here father was gone.

Sierra spent Thursday night by herself and slept near a tree, Colson said. The next morning, she found an old campsite, where she sat for awhile before hearing vehicles on a nearby road. Sierra found her way to the road and followed footprints, which turned out to be the footprints of her siblings and Harrington. She caught up to the group and all four were picked up at around 10 a.m. Friday, Colson said.

The children were wearing shorts and T-shirts and not prepared to spend a night in the woods, Colson said. When found, all four were in good health, hungry and slightly dehydrated.

Colson does not know why the group decided to head into the woods to look for help instead of staying on the road or traveling along the nearby, better-maintained road. The sheriff’s department also is investigating why Williams was naked when they found him and why he left his 10-year-old daughter by herself in the woods.

“The thing is kind of puzzling, on the whole,” Colson said.

The sheriff’s department took blood samples from Williams for a toxicology tests, Colson said, to see if drugs or alcohol could explain any of the unusual behavior.

About 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Williams reportedly picked up his three children from his ex-wife and took them fishing with his girlfriend.

The children were supposed to return home Wednesday night and when they had not returned Thursday morning, the mother, Elizabeth Kvale, called the sheriff’s department.

After that call, searchers went to the truck, which was noticed Wednesday by Forest Service employees and spotted by a pilot. From that area, searches were done on the nearby forest roads. The children’s grandparents hired a helicopter to assist in the effort.

The search was called off shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday and resumed Friday morning. Friday’s search included a United States Air Force helicopter, six men on horseback, numerous searchers on four wheelers, a private helicopter and Routt County and Teton County dog teams.

Once the girlfriend and the children were found, the group was able to show searchers where the father was last seen.

Dog teams were taken into the area and a search and rescue member found a man-made mark across F.R. 412 in Routt County. Friday’s search was called off at 10 p.m.

On Saturday morning, the search began with members of the Civil Air Patrol, members of the Encampment, Baggs and Routt County search and rescue units on horses and four-wheelers and two Teton County dog teams.

Members from the Teton County dog team started the search from the mark and found Williams about 10 a.m.

— To reach Christine Metz, call 871-4225

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com


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