SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — Summit County Search and Rescue were able to locate two male snowmobilers Wednesday who had gotten stuck near Fish Lake after they received an SOS alert from a SPOT device.
At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Search and Rescue were still attempting to locate two snowmobilers who became stranded due to the storm overnight. They had only planned their excursion as a day trip and had left Tuesday morning around 8 a.m.
Sgt. Felicia Sotelo of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said there were multiple reasons that the SAR mission was so difficult including deep snow and very steep terrains. She said the two men had gone into a bowl and were unable to get out. She said they were low on fuel and essentially were stranded.
“They had a spot communication device which allowed them to communicate with an emergency contact that they had pre-set up,” Sotelo said.
According to REI, a spot communication device is a satellite device that allows you to send short messages to saved contacts and has a much larger coverage area than a normal phone. Depending on the subscription, you can also send your GPS location to emergency services.
Sotelo said because of this, the snowmobilers were able to be rescued. She said that they also notified their family where they were going beforehand, and that made a huge difference.
When the men realized they were stranded, they built a snow cave in order to wait out the storm for the night, built a fire, and were believed to have sufficient gear, Sotelo said.
“Obviously no one wants to spend the night unexpectedly in the snow,” Sotelo said. “But they did have at least some backcountry experience and knowledge to keep themselves sheltered during the storm overnight.”
Sotelo said that SAR sent out seven snowmobiler sleds to search for them, but it took them several hours to get there. She said it takes time to get gear and mobilize to rescue in the backcountry.
SAR was able to find the snowmobilers in the morning, and get them home safely.