Steamboat Springs A day before the first rifle hunting season even began, the Routt County Search & Rescue crew was already taking its first call to rescue a hunter.
Tom Collins, 40, of Shinnston, W. VA., fell off his horse when it shied in a remote area of the Flat Tops Wilderness. He suffered a fractured upper arm in the fall.
The accident occurred about 10 miles south of Pagoda Peak in the extreme southwest corner of Routt County, at about 9,200 feet elevation.
The rescue crew was called about 6 p.m. and told that Collins nearly passed out from the pain when his friends tried to help him ride out. The rescue crew determined that a helicopter would be the best way to get Collins out, said Jim Heckbert, who manned the Search and Rescue bus at the trailhead.
An Air Life helicopter was called to help, as such copters and their pilots are better equipped for night flying.. With the full moon only two nights away, the pilot had no trouble spotting Collins and the Search and Rescue crew of Marc Satre, Bill Keller, Jim Vail, and John Witte about 10:30 p.m.
The crew was back home in Steamboat by 2:30 a.m.
“this is our busy time of year” Heckbert reports. We have about 30,000 (hunters) running around in the woods” in this area throughout the rifle hunting season.