Rescuers busy in Garfield County
November 2, 2010
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Nine people were located and returned to safety in two separate Garfield County Search and Rescue operations Sunday night and early Monday.According to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, three men on all-terrain vehicles from Garfield County Search & Rescue Inc. assisted three lost hunters north of Dotsero, then were able to locate a group of six stranded college students near Hubbard’s Cave, outside of Glenwood Springs, a short time later.In the first incident, the Vail Dispatch Center received a call at about 8:12 p.m. Sunday from a 35-year-old hunter from Gypsum. The man, along with his teenage son and his son’s friend, had been dropped off around noon in the Willow Peak area of the White River National Forest to hunt for big game in the waning hours of the state’s second rifle season, but had become lost in the high country.The three had planned to hunt by walking south until reaching the Dotsero area where they would be picked up that evening, sheriff’s spokesman Philip Strouse said in a press release.After becoming disoriented, and with daylight waning and their cell phone battery running low, they called 911 requesting help. They then waited at an old homestead-type cabin near the south rim of Deep Creek Canyon in the Coffee Pot area, Strouse said.Vail Dispatch was able to pinpoint their location using the cell phone’s GPS capability. Three rescue personnel on ATVs finally reached the hunters around 2:28 a.m. Monday via ATVs, after enduring muddy conditions from overnight rain and snow. They also spent about an hour cutting through downed trees along the way.After bringing the hunters down to the Dotsero area, the rescuers were informed of another stranded group in the Lookout Mountain area off County Road 120.Around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, six students from Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley Campus decided take a pickup to go exploring in the Hubbard Cave area, Strouse said. However, several miles up Landis Creek the group became stuck in the mud after the exhaust tail pipe punctured the right rear tire.Being lightly dressed and unprepared for the deteriorating conditions, the group contacted the Garfield County Emergency Communications Center for assistance at approximately 1:56 a.m. Monday, Strouse said.”Just having completed their first mission in Dotsero, the three rescue personnel were able to reach the students around 6:15 a.m. with the help of one of the students’ GPS units providing exact coordinates,” he said.It took two trips on three ATVs to get all six out, but the entire group was back at the CMC campus by 8 a.m. Monday, he said.”Garfield County Search & Rescue Inc. and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office recommend anyone traveling off main roads to bring along proper cold-weather apparel, adequate food and water, blankets, a fully-charged cellular phone and a GPS unit at a minimum,” the Sheriff’s Office advised.Before leaving, travelers should also make sure someone knows where they are going, what equipment they are taking and when to expect their return.