Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our local heroes


To those of you who know me, and those who have been following this story, you know my family has been through a terrible tragedy.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, we accidentally T-boned a cliff while bird hunting at the top of Johnstone Creek in whiteout conditions. It was a big one, and when one of my boys (the dogs) disappeared, I feared the worst. I spent the next three hours searching with no sign in any form or manner of what had happened. I continued calling and searching in vain, until my voice was gone, my body began to seize and hypothermia began to set in. Needless to say, my anxiety and level of concern were through the absolute roof by then.

Upon getting back home, I immediately started making calls to round up gear and put a team together to go back and search for my "little buddy," and this is where the true nature of this story begins. Although I've spent the better part of the last 40 years or so tromping around in these mountains, I was not prepared, or capable, of what I was about to undertake, and if it hadn't been for the level thinking of my friends, I would probably not be here right now to write this letter. They suggested I call Search and Rescue (I would never have thought of that under these circumstances), and that is when my dilemma first began to resolve itself.

They did not question, second-guess or demean the situation in any way. They immediately began the process of putting a team together to assist, and did so in a very short time. Although we could not go back out that day—it was just too late—we did go out early the next morning, in the worst weather conditions possible, to find and recover my best friend. They were prepared, professional, organized and ready to go. They offered continued support, compassion and understanding to me, God knows I needed it. They did this on a moment's notice, with great risk to themselves, under the most dire conditions imaginable. Even though we did not find my friend, we did answer many questions that day, the most important knowing that he was not on that terrible rock face, suffering.

To Mike Elle, Seth, Ed, Rebecca, Melissa, Karly, Greg, Taan, and all of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Fire Department Search and Rescue team, thank you, I will be forever in your debt. To Barb and Lara in dispatch and coordination, a special word of thanks for your support and compassion—from the beginning, you saved me, and kept me from going off the deep end, both mentally and physically.

Thank you to everyone at the Sun Valley Animal Center—we have been through a lot. MuJah was a special friend, with special needs, and it is amazing how close you can get to those like that. I know you will miss him almost as much as I do.

Last but not least, thank you to Lynn Ruhter, Pee Wee Thomas, Mike Rose, Jack Lalanne and Minor Harkness, my friends, who dropped all they were doing, to go up again, help me finally find my friend, and start bringing closure to this terrible ordeal.

In closing, I want to say that I would not wish this situation on my worst enemy. This has been excruciating, and to everyone, be careful. I hope I have not missed anyone—please forgive me if I have.

To all who helped, you are heroes to me, and everyone who lives here. This just reconfirms to all of us why we live here, when so many of our friends and neighbors become our heroes at a moment's notice when the times get tough. This really is an incredible place we call home!

Dan Kurdy is a resident of Hailey.

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