Routt County Search and Rescue responds to Flat Tops, Mount Zirkel wilderness area calls Tuesday
July 30, 2013
Steamboat Springs — A 50-year-old Texas man was expected to be OK after possibly suffering from a stroke and falling as far as 80 feet down steep, rocky terrain in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area on Tuesday morning.
After a call for help at about 11 a.m., a four-person crew from Routt County Search and Rescue responded to the trail that leads to the popular Devil's Causeway crossing.
Because of spotty cellphone service, emergency responders did not initially know how severe the man's injuries were. Incident commander Kristia Check-Hill said the man fell sometime between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Someone then had to hike back to the trailhead at Stillwater Reservoir before getting cellphone service.
"When you go into the backcountry, it may be a while until you get somewhere where you have cellphone coverage," Check-Hill said.
Routt County resident Ron Tilley was hiking on the same trail as the man and his family. He said those caring for the man said he had symptoms indicative of a stroke.
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"He was in very, very serious condition," Tilley said.
Tilley said the man fell on a steep section just before the switchbacks that lead up to the Causeway.
"It could be possible that a medical condition caused him to fall," Check-Hill said.
Yampa Fire Protection District firefighters, Routt County Sheriff's Office deputies and Flight for Life crew members helped with the rescue.
Check-Hill said the man was awake and talking when rescuers reached him at about 1:15 p.m. The man was flown out at about 2:10 p.m.
"They assessed him and decided he needed to go directly to Denver," Check-Hill said.
Although Devil's Causeway is in Garfield County, Check-Hill said the Routt County team chose to handle the rescue because it could reach the man faster than another team.
A couple of hours later, Search and Rescue was called to help a 70-year-old woman who possibly had broken her ankle while hiking on Forest Service Trail 1152 in North Routt County.
By 8 p.m., a crew of six Search and Rescue volunteers and two firefighters from the North Routt Fire Protection District had reached the woman and were bringing her out. The woman injured herself about 1 1/2 miles into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area.
"It's been a long day, but we're happy to do it, and hopefully both parties will have a full recovery," Check-Hill said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com