Man rescued in snowmobile accident
VAIL PASS – A Lakewood man used his cell phone to alert rescuers after his snowmobile rolled over him while he was riding in the Vail Pass area Saturday.
Summit County Ambulance Service paramedics took Duane McClure, 41, to Vail Valley Medical Center with a suspected broken femur and hip injuries. McClure was snowmobiling below Machine Gun Ridge, about six miles from the Vail Pass rest area.
According to rescuers, McClure was “high-marking” the ridge about 9:30 a.m., riding uphill as far as possible before turning downhill. At the apex of the high mark, McClure’s sled rolled over him.
McClure wasn’t sure of his position, said Summit County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ed Hendricks, but rescuers figured he was in the area of the ridge because McClure’s cell phone was in service range.
Ten Summit County Search and Rescue volunteers and three rangers from the U.S. Forest Service loaded McClure onto a sled and brought him back to the rest area. The rescue took about three-and-a-half hours; although the trail to the ridge is mostly groomed by snowcats, heavy use has left it bumpy, rescuers said.
“He’s lucky,” said rescuer Joeben Slivka. “This is an inherently dangerous activity – that’s why people are out here doing it. But he had the right gear on, and he was able to call out.”
A Mountain Branch American Red Cross volunteer also assisted by bringing Domino’s pizza and drinks for the rescuers.
Rescuers were alarmed by other snowmobilers in the area who, even as McClure was being taken out, were high-marking and jumping off the cornice of the ridge. With 8 feet of snow in some areas, snowmobilers will likely be flocking to Vail Pass well into May.
Machine Gun Ridge was the site of a rescue in February when a Conifer man rode a snowmobile off the ridge. In January, the ridge was the site of a 400-foot avalanche. In March 2002, one man died and two men were injured when they rode off the ridge.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or email@example.com.
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