Sunday, February 18, 2001
Steamboat Springs A beleaguered Routt County Search and Rescue crew was digging into its energy reserves late Sunday afternoon and preparing to mount its third mission in less than 24 hours.
Light snow was falling at 4 p.m. as a team of skiers and snowshoers headed up Fish Creek Canyon. They were in search of three lost cross-country skiers who were communicating with their would-be rescuers by cell phone.
Radio communications indicated a third party made contact with the lost skiers by 4:30 p.m. and began guiding them down the Uranium Mine Trail. Search and Rescue members met up with the group at 5 p.m. and the search concluded successfully.
When the call came out to find the lost skiers, the rescue crews had been back at the ambulance barn in downtown Steamboat barely 15 minutes after returning from another rescue mission northeast of Clark.
Search and Rescue's busy weekend began at dusk on Saturday with a report that two snowmobilers were stuck in a steep drainage to the southwest of Farwell Mountain in north Routt County. The two Steamboat men were in the general vicinity of Pearl Lake, between Clark and Hahn's Peak Village. They were successfully brought out of the backcountry at about 2 p.m. Sunday after spending the night out on their own. But the most serious incident of the weekend occurred Sunday in the midst of the snowmobile rescue.
A New York police sergeant, Barbara Jones, broke her right femur while snowmobiling with Steamboat Lake Outfitters, also in the vicinity of Farwell.
Search and Rescue medic Adam Christman was standing by in case the two marooned snowmobilers needed help when he said he was approached by a guide from Steamboat Lake Outfitters, alerting him to Jones' injury.
Christman quickly diverted to the accident scene about two miles away. "She had a mid-shaft femur fracture that was badly dislocated," he said.
Christman said he learned at the scene that Jones was riding a snowmobile that went out of control, and she either fell or leapt from the snow machine. As she did so, her right leg went beneath a log lying in the snow. With her right leg stuck, the log acted as a fulcrum as the momentum of her upper body continued and her leg was badly broken.
Christman realigned and splinted the woman's leg. He was encouraged when he was able to determine that blood flow had been restored to her lower leg.
"She was a great patient," Christman said. "I feel good about the way that one turned out."
In the midst of caring for Jones, Christman learned her daughter also had suffered an arm injury and treated her as well.
The patients were evacuated from the backcountry by a snowmobile towing a sled, then transferred to an ambulance that took Jones to Yampa Valley Medical Center for surgery.
The search for Brooks Rice and Ron Forcum, the marooned snowmobilers, was suspended at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday night, Search and Rescue's Dace Carver said, after it was determined they were uninjured and had built a fire.
"They had a fire, they had a snow cave. If you get that, you're alive," Christman said.