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Rough rescue

Saving ailing hunter becomes nine-hour ordeal

Gail Mullen was on patrol in Great Divide when she heard the call on her radio shortly before noon Saturday. A hunter in the Irish Canyon area was having heart problems.

As Mullen, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management law enforcement ranger, radioed her availability to Craig dispatch, Phil Akers heard the call on his radio as he worked near the Gates of Lodore. The Dinosaur National Monument ranger radioed his availability, too.

When Akers arrived on the scene, he met three members of the Maybell Ambulance crew and a Colorado Division of Wildlife officer. Members of the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Moffat County Search and Rescue and The Memorial Hospital soon answered the call, some of them driving 90 miles from Craig to get to the isolated corner of Moffat County.



During a nine-hour rescue effort, their teamwork brought Art Marshall, 62, of Castle Rock, out of the backcountry alive.

Two days after the rescue, participants in the effort were quick to praise each other’s work.



“I thought it was great to have that many agencies get together and work, especially in a remote area,” Akers said.

“To have that many entities work together is pretty cool,” said Bret Steele, Maybell Ambulance crew member.

When Steele and his crew arrived on the scene, they weren’t sure where to find Marshall. Marshall had a global positioning system device with him, but the Maybell Ambulance crew didn’t. So they parked the ambulance at Irish Canyon campground and turned on the siren, hoping someone would hear them.

When no one responded, the crew drove north, where they met Akers and the DOW officer, Mike Blanck. The ambulance crew piled their gear into the National Park Service and DOW vehicles and drove onto Cold Springs Mountain, to the west of Irish Canyon.

It took Mullen an hour to arrive on scene from Great Divide, driving at rescue speed. She had a GPS, but the coordinates the members of Marshall’s hunting party provided were a bit off. Listening to the men’s description of their surroundings, Mullen guessed they were on the edge of an old burn area.

“I hiked to the closest ridge, looked around and saw their blaze orange,” Mullen said.

The day was warm, and no snow had accumulated on Cold Springs Mountain. Marshall was lying down when Mullen arrived. She described him as conscious and relaxed but lightheaded and short of breath.

The EMTs treated Marshall for hypothermia as well as his heart problems. Steele declined to be more specific about Marshall’s ailments.

A helicopter from St. Mary’s Hospital was dispatched from Grand Junction, and the eight people on scene cleared a 70-foot by 90-foot area of brush and rocks so the helicopter could land.

But at about 5:30 p.m., just past sunset, the helicopter arrived. The pilot decided it was too risky to land there.

“Then we figured we were going to have to carry him out,” Steele said.

Sgt. Tim Jantz of the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office was off-duty and hunting on Cold Springs Mountain when he heard and responded to the call. He arrived and helped Steele, Akers, a Craig EMT and two of Marshall’s hunting buddies carry Marshall out as the air grew cold.

“It was rough, rough country. We had to go over rocks and cliffs,” Steele said.

It took the six men more than an hour to carry Marshall three-quarters of a mile.

Fortunately, Dawn Nottingham of Maybell soon arrived with horses. She was herding cattle in the area when she heard the call on her radio.

The EMTs decided Marshall’s condition was stable enough that he could ride a horse out. With emergency medical technician K. C. Hume walking next to Marshall’s horse, the group was at the ambulance in 45 more minutes.

Marshall was transported to The Memorial Hospital. Hospital staff would not describe Marshall’s condition Monday.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.


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