Snowmobile accident, stuck motorist part of busy week for Wasatch County Search and Rescue
The Wasatch County Search and Rescue captain issued warnings to wintertime recreators after helping people stranded in the backcountry last week.
On Saturday, a man in his mid-twenties broke his femur in a snowmobile crash in Horse Creek Canyon near the Strawberry Reservoir. He was riding in low light, hit a hole at high speed and crashed into a pile of snow, slamming his body into the front of the snowmobile.
Wasatch County Search and Rescue Captain Kam Kohler said the type of accident he had is very common for snowmobile riders and reminded people to ride in control, especially when in low visibility.
The rescuers transported the patient out on a snowbulance, which is a sleigh with space for someone to lay out and for an EMT to accompany them.
Kohler said that’s how they take people out of trails or the backcountry only when the ride isn’t too bumpy to keep a patient healthy. The other primary option is a helicopter.
“We put a patient on a backboard, strap them in, set them in the snowbulance,” Kohler said. “It’s on pretty good suspension. It’s not a fun ride, because you’ve got a broken bone, but it’s certainly better than being exposed to the weather the whole way.”
(video courtesy of Wasatch County Search and Rescue)
After Search and Rescue received the call around 3:30 p.m., the crew arrived about an hour later. Wasatch County Fire also responded. The man was transported to the hospital for treatment.
Two days earlier, a crew responded to a call about a 30-year-old man who was stranded after driving a truck on a snowmobile track. He got stuck near Highway 35 above Woodland, which is just south of Francis and within the Summit County boundary. He was about a mile and a half from a paved road.
While trying to drive away, the man broke the truck’s transmission and disabled it from driving in reverse. To make matters worse, he didn’t have cell-phone service.
By the time Search and Rescue arrived, the man was gone. He left the site with some snowshoers who passed by his car. He told the snowshoers he had spent the previous night in the truck.
Kohler said driving a car on closed roads is not only illegal but dangerous to drivers and people who use snowmobile tracks. Cars dig holes and divots in the tracks. When those freeze over, the terrain becomes more dangerous for snowmobilers.
Plus, the county doesn’t allow Search and Rescue to recover vehicles for liability reasons, unless it’s necessary to rescue someone.
“People just make stupid choices, and they trash the groomed trail, and then they expect Search and Rescue to come tow them out,” Kohler said. “We just say, ‘We would love to tow you out, but we can’t.’ I can’t even hook a chain onto your truck and try to pull you out.”
Kohler said the truck is likely still on the track.
According to Kohler, cases of people getting stuck on snowmobile trails happen about five times a year.