Missing snowmobilers rode out on their own
March 8, 2016
On Sunday March 6 at 9:06 p.m., GCSAR (Grand County Search and Rescue) was notified that four snowmobiler in the Idleglen area near Grand Lake were overdue from a ride. The last contact with the riders had been at 11 a.m. Sunday morning, according to John Sanderson, GCSAR president. On Monday morning GCSAR set up their command center in Idelglen parking lot off County Road 4 in Grand Lake.
In addition to GCSAR team members, local riders assisted the team led by Chris Ziegler, GCSAR Incident Commander. Since they were unsuccessful locating the subject's cell phones via direct calls or via tracking (pings) from cell towers, GCSAR Command contacted the Colorado Search and Rescue Board (CSRB) and requested assistance from the United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City, Florida, according to the reports.
In addition; the Grand County Sherriff's Office notified the Colorado National Guard's High Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum for aerial assistance as well as Flight For Life Colorado requesting and aerial search of the Gravel Mountain area. Luckily, these resources were not needed.
The snowmobilers were caught in tough riding conditions as the day got later while on the west side of Gravel Mountain. They chose to spend the night. The rider's dug a ten-foot wide hole, four feet deep, and placed the snowmobile around the perimeter to block wind, according the GCSAR report. Several riders had food, water, gas for cooking and saws to cut wood. They proceeded to ride out at daybreak. The search team found the snowmobiles riding out around 9 a.m. on Monday.
Kevin McCauley, 26 led the group out to the Gravel Mountain area on Sunday. His father, Charley, spent the night at the trailhead at Idleglen waiting for his son to ride out. Despite knowing all the bad things that could have happened to the group, McCauley felt confident in Kevin's abilities.
"Kevin made the call to stay where they were," he said. "They were never lost. They made the right call to make a fire; it was too dangerous to drive out in the dark."