Helicopter guides medics to missing men near Rabbit Ears Pass
A pair of missing snowmobilers had a very cold night over the weekend as a Flight for Life helicopter crew searched the wilderness near Rabbit Ears Pass for the two missing men.
Late Saturday evening local authorities received a report of lost snowmobilers from a caller in Kremmling. The two missing men, 33-year-old Ace Lilienthal of Yuma and 57-year-old Kent Martens of Burlington contacted friends in the Kremmling area Saturday night and informed them they became lost while snowmobiling in the Rabbit Ears Pass area.
Shortly afterwards a Colorado State trooper was able to locate the missing parties vehicle near mile marker 155 on US Highway 40. After unsuccessfully attempting to reach the two men via cell phone authorities were able to ping their cell phone, which indicated a location approximately 21 miles northwest of the Wolford Mountain cellphone tower.
A Flight for Life helicopter out of Frisco was contacted to aid in the search efforts at 11:46 p.m. Saturday night, Jan. 2. The heli crew was in the air by 12:24 a.m. and was actively searching the area near Rabbit Ears Pass by 12:57 a.m.
Sometime after arriving in the area the Flight for Life helicopter discovered the approximate location of Lilienthal and Martens. At that time the heli crew was able to hear the missing men but could not see them.
The helicopter then dropped off two flight medics who began snowshoeing through the wilderness in search of the missing men. The helicopter returned to the air and provided an aerial guide for the flight medics on the ground. Together the flight medics and the helicopter were able to locate the missing pair who were then taken by the helicopter back to their vehicle on US 40. There were no injuries sustained by either the two missing men or the Flight for Life crew.
The use of Flight for Life helicopters for a search and rescue (SAR) mission is a relatively new paradigm. Depending on multiple extenuating circumstances local first responders can potentially call upon Flight for Life helicopters to help conduct SAR missions. The helicopters are not necessarily called for in all SAR missions but the potential exists depending on availability of the helicopters.
The idea of using the helicopters for SAR missions was presented to local authorities by the Flight for Life organization. The use of Flight for Life helicopters in SAR missions is only possible when the heli crews do not have medical emergencies to attend to, which take precedence over SAR missions, according to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
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