Rescuers find lost hunter in night of sub-freezing temperatures
Grand County Search and Rescue was activated by the Grand County Sheriff Monday evening to search for an overdue hunter. The 66 year old hunter, besides being elderly, had some serious medical issues which triggered a nighttime response by the rescue team.
Lon Mathews of Kempth, Texas, was found alive at around midnight.
He was dropped off around 3:30 p.m. on the Kawuneeche Road west of Grand Lake in the North Supply drainage by his hunting partners. He was supposed to travel a short way southeast which would put him back on the main road where he would be picked up at dusk.
When Mathews didn’t show up, and after a preliminary search, the hunting partners called 911 at about 8:45 p.m.
Apparently Mathews, who was carrying no survival gear and was wearing low-cut rubber boots, headed off instead to the southwest. He found a trail, but it wasn’t the main road. After walking back and forth on the trail for a while, he decided to try to go cross country. Of course by that time, it was dark. Mathews reported that he was shivering cold. He thought about lying down, but decided that was a bad idea.
Search and Rescue responded with twelve volunteers. As they were organizing the search effort, one of the searchers heard a whistle. After blasting the sirens on the rescue truck, a gunshot was heard. A field team was able to locate Mathews by zeroing in on the whistle shortly before midnight.
He was able to walk out to the Kawuneeche Road and was reunited with his partners. In the estimation of the Incident Commander, Mathews would have had difficulty surviving the sub-freezing temperature during the night.
Grand County Search and Rescue would like to remind hunters, and any backcountry travelers, to always carry survival supplies, even if just going for a short hike.
A flashlight, matches and firestarter, a map and compass or an emergency shelter can all save your life if you get yourself in a bind. Always tell someone where you are going, and when you plan to return.
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