About 40 hours after being rescued via emergency helicopter south of Pocatello, a 46-year-old Blackfoot man was rescued again Sunday evening, according to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office.
Stacey D. James and his 12-year-old son were flown out of the Mink Creek area south of Pocatello safe and unharmed just before noon Saturday via Portneuf Medical Center’s air ambulance after becoming stranded in the snowy wilderness when one snowmobile got stuck and another broke down, authorities told the Idaho State Journal on Saturday.
On Sunday evening around 5 p.m., James and another man went back into the Mink Creek area to retrieve the two stranded snowmobiles and ended up getting stranded in the mountains again, according to Bannock County Search and Rescue Commander Torey Danner.
Danner says James contacted search and rescue around 8:45 p.m. Sunday to again request assistance after the vehicle they were using to extract the stranded snowmobiles became stranded itself.
Similar to the first instance, search and rescue teams from Bannock and Power counties responded to the second rescue call.
The search and rescue effort on Sunday evening did not utilize the assistance of the emergency helicopter mainly because the crews already had archived GPS data from the first rescue and knew exactly where to go.
Danner says the air ambulance was used during the initial rescue due to the large search area in which James and his son were stranded. A Bannock County Sheriff’s Office deputy located James’ black 2003 GMC Sierra pickup truck around 10 a.m. Saturday at the parking lot along Mink Creek Road but there were no signs of the missing individuals.
The air ambulance was brought in to search for any signs of disturbed soil or tracks in the snow from the snowmobiles to try and pinpoint the lost pair’s location. Authorities during the initial rescue said they repeatedly tried to contact the missing father and son via cellphone but were unsuccessful and believed the pair’s phones had been turned off.
During the second rescue, James had a cellphone with him and was able to maintain contact with rescuers, Danner said.
James and the man who was with him were ultimately rescued from the Mink Creek area early Sunday morning at about 4 a.m., Danner said.
Following two rescues of the same person in less than 48 hours, Danner wants to encourage the public to never leave for a trip in the Idaho backcountry without the proper plans and preparation.
In addition to notifying a person not in the traveling party about when the group is leaving, where they are going and when they are expected to be back, Danner recommends people recreating in the outdoors always pack emergency supplies including proper clothing, food and water rations and multiple forms of communication.
Danner also wants to encourage the public to never be too afraid or too embarrassed to contact search and rescue in the event of an emergency.
“We want people to call us for help because we will definitely do what we can to get them out of a bad situation,” Danner said. “We also want people to know phone calls are free and you can do them ahead of time. Call the U.S. Forest Service, do your research and ask some questions. Come up with a good game plan because we would much rather proactively point you in the right direction than have to come up and rescue you from a terrible situation.”