Stranded smowmobilers brought to safety |

Stranded smowmobilers brought to safety

Brad Bolchunos/Steamboat Today

— Two snowmobilers stranded overnight near Stagecoach Reservoir escaped serious harm after emergency crews found them and brought them to safety Monday.

Stagecoach residents, Steve Butts, 25, and Kurt Birch, 24, apparently traveled by snowmobile into muddy and timber-laden terrain Sunday, said Gay Sigman of the Routt County Sheriff's Office. Fellow snowmobiler Al Meyer, 30, hiked out when the three could not move their machines from the area, which is located on Green Ridge approximately 12 miles south of Stagecoach, Sigman said.

After hiking more than seven hours, Meyer reached a phone and called the emergency dispatchers around 12:30 a.m. Monday, Sigman said.

Routt County Search and Rescue workers, under incident commander Joe Stevens used snowmobiles and then snowshoes to travel into the area and locate the stranded party, Sigman said. They reached Butts and Birch at 8:20 a.m.

"They had been unable to start a fire and were cold and wet," Sigman said. Apparently lacking survival gear, they were suffering from hypothermia and at first could not stop shivering, he said.

Members of the sheriff's office and the 8 – 10 Search and Rescue personnel involved lit a fire and served the victims hot liquids before hiking out with them, to a place where they could rendezvous with a helicopter joining the effort from Glenwood Springs. Although Butts and Birch appeared to be recovering, rescue officials did not want to take any chances, Sigman said.

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The helicopter brought them by 1:30 p.m. to the Steamboat Springs Airport, where Steamboat Ambulance personnel examined them.

They were both in good condition and refused transportation" to Routt Memorial Hospital, said terry Hermes, a paramedic with Steamboat Ambulance.

One of the Search and Rescue participants, Doug Allen, sustained a minor knee injury during the search operation when his snowmobile rolled on its side, Sigman said. Allen was treated at Routt Memorial Hospital and released, he said.

Whether the rescued parties will be responsible for reimbursing any rescue costs remains to be seen, Sigman said.

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