Workers search for lost hunters

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A weary Routt County Search and Rescue crew was regrouping late Monday afternoon for the volunteer organization's fifth mission in three days.

Search and Rescue member Randall Hannaway said a helicopter ambulance was being paged at 5:30 p.m. in hopes that it could reach an injured hunter in North Routt County, just a few miles from the Wyoming state line. However, with dusk just an hour away, and the chopper unable to land in rough terrain in the dark, a ground crew also was being mustered.

Search and Rescue member Adam Christman, who was packing a command vehicle, said it probably would take three hours to reach the remote hunters' camp near the confluence of Johnson Creek and the South Fork of the Little Snake River in the vicinity of Shield Mountain.

The injured hunter, who was not named, reportedly had fallen from a horse, suffering serious head and neck injuries. The incident was reported by a hunting guide using a cell phone. The Search and Rescue team had lost the cell signal and was attempting to renew contact.

By 7 p.m., the manager of Three Forks Ranch was standing by to guide rescuers on all-terrain vehicles to Johnson Creek. The helicopter was preparing to land in Clark, about 24 miles north of Steamboat, at about the same time.

Earlier Monday afternoon, Search and Rescue was called to come to the aid of a hunter experiencing a medical emergency closer to Steamboat Springs. The hunter was reported to be in difficult terrain north of the Mad Creek Trail in the vicinity of Big Creek. A Routt County paramedic plus a search-crew member, Leon Shupp, were dispatched in a helicopter operated by Zephyr Helicopters to retrieve the man. He was flown to Steamboat Springs Airport, where an ambulance met him and transported him to Yampa Valley Medical Center. Shupp said the man was experiencing abdominal pain.

Crews were called to rescue two parties of lost hunters Saturday, the same day they took part in a search for a downed aircraft on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Hannaway said rescuers successfully located a single lost hunter south of Rabbit Ears in the vicinity of Green Creek. Then, at 7:50 p.m., a Search and Rescue crew was dispatched to the area of the Devil's Causeway, south of Yampa. The lost hunters were successfully brought out of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, Hannaway said.

Colorado is in the midst of the second big-game season for elk and deer, which continues until Sunday.

-- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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