Man hurt in 4-wheeler wreck

59-year-old trapped nearly 7 hours under machine

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— Larry Belton, 59, rode off on his four-wheeler Thursday morning to check a head gate on an irrigation ditch at Big Creek Ranch. Belton, who works part time at the ranch, soon found himself in a life-threatening situation.

Belton wrecked on his four-wheeler and was thrown into an irrigation ditch. His four-wheeler landed on top of him, trapping him from 9:45 a.m. until 5 p.m., when ranch manager Don Vogel became worried and went to look for him.

"It was emotionally hard; Larry is a very good friend of mine," Vogel said. He said when he found Belton he removed his wet clothing and wrapped him in a tarp to reduce the possibility of shock.

Belton was transported from the site by Search and Rescue and was admitted to Yampa Valley Medical Center. His sons, Scott and Matt Belton, went out to the accident site as soon as they received word from Vogel.

"I was a little worried," Scott Belton said. "When I walked up to him and said, 'Dad, it's Scott,' he said, 'I know who you are.'" He said he knew from that moment his dad was going to be OK.

Belton's injuries include a broken collarbone, an injury to his right eye, bruising and minor burns.

Search and Rescue member Darrel Levingston said when members arrived at the site, Belton was extremely dehydrated and cold. Rescue workers warmed Belton with blankets. Paramedic Mike Hirschman gave Belton an I.V. to help hydrate him after a long day without food or water. Levingston said the adeptness of everyone involved is one of the reasons the rescue was a success and that Belton survived.

Belton is being treated at Yampa Valley Medical Center and is expected to be released in four or five days.

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