Snow chases hunters from Flat Tops camps |

Snow chases hunters from Flat Tops camps

Several feet of snow in the Flat Tops triggered the rescue of one hunter over the weekend and forced many others to abandon their camps and head downhill to safety.According to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, as many as 70 hunters may have been caught in a storm that left two to three feet of new snow and drifts four to six feet deep.The Sheriff’s Office received a call at 10:16 a.m. Saturday about a hunter stranded up Forest Service Road 600 at mile marker 25 in the Deep Lake area northeast of Glenwood Springs in Garfield County.Scott Andrew Thompson, 42, of Westminster, used his cell phone to call a friend, Brandon Dwain Garcia, 38, in Brighton, and Garcia in turn called Garfield County emergency dispatchers.Garcia told dispatchers that Thompson said he had become stuck in a two-wheel-drive truck and had no food, water, gas or propane. Garcia said he feared for Thompson’s life.Heavy snows hampered Garfield County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue crews, making roads impassable by vehicle. However, they used snowmobiles to locate Thompson at 5:34 p.m. Saturday.He was uninjured. Rescuers transported Thompson to a U.S. Forest Service officer, who took him to his hunting party.When other hunters in the Deep Lake and Owl Lake area couldn’t be accounted for by their hunting parties, five searchers on snowmobiles from West Eagle County Search & Rescue were dispatched. The crews checked abandoned camps and looked for stranded vehicles until 11 p.m. Saturday, then stayed overnight at a Forest Service cabin near White Owl Lake.Searchers continued their efforts Sunday morning. Garfield County Sheriff Tom Dalessandri requested a helicopter from DBS Helicopters of Rifle to join in that day’s search, and seven more searchers and two Forest Service officers responded on snowmobiles. No other hunters were found. However, due to the remoteness of the area, the abandoned camps and vehicles probably will be stranded until spring, the sheriff’s office reported.

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