Friday, March 8, 2013

Heavy snow leads to rash of accidents

Backcountry rescue saves snowmobiler with broken leg

Ketchum Fire Department emergency responders had to cut the top off this Honda Insight, left, to extricate a Richfield man from the vehicle around noon Wednesday near the intersection of state Highway 75 and Gimlet Road. Identified as 49-year-old Ferd Saunders, the man was transported with non-life-threatening injuries to St. Luke’s Wood River. Photo by Roland Lane

Heavy snow and resulting slick roads kept the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office on the run shortly before noon Wednesday as the agency responded to three accident calls south of Ketchum within about 35 minutes of each other.

A Richfield man sustained non-life-threatening injuries in a two-vehicle accident reported at 11:44 a.m. near the intersection of state Highway 75 and Gimlet Road. Sheriff Gene Ramsey said Ferd Saunders, 49, had to be extricated from his vehicle and was transported to St. Luke’s Wood River by Ketchum Fire Department ambulance. Ramsey said Saunders suffered a broken right ankle and an injured right hand.

Ramsey said there were no injuries in the other two accidents.

The first was reported at 11:11 a.m. and occurred on Broadway Run near its intersection with East Meadows Drive, south of St. Luke’s Wood River. Ramsey said the accident occurred when a Dodge Dakota pickup slid into a Federal Express delivery van. He said there was only minor damage to the vehicles.

At 11:14 a.m., a GMC Yukon slid of Highway 75 near its intersection with Hospital Drive and crashed into a power pole.

Ramsey said the injury accident occurred when Saunders, southbound in a red Honda Insight, collided with a northbound white Lincoln Navigator driven by Hector Osorio-Garcia, 32, of Hailey.

“Hector was losing control, fishtailed, got into slush and spun into the path of the Saunders vehicle,” Ramsey said.

The sheriff said Osorio-Garcia will be cited for driving too fast for conditions, failure to have a current driver’s license and failure to maintain insurance.


Backcountry rescue

Wednesday’s snowstorm also kept the Sheriff’s Office and other emergency agencies busy in the rescue of a snowmobiler who crashed and broke his leg in the Big Smoky area about seven miles southwest of Smiley Creek.

The Ketchum Fire Department coordinated a search that also included the Sheriff’s Office, Blaine County Search and Rescue, the Sun Valley Fire Department, Wood River Fire & Rescue and volunteer snowmobilers.

“He was quite a ways off the road,” Ramsey said. “Because of the remoteness of it, and it was snowing, we needed a lot of resources to get to him.”

The accident was reported at about 2:10 p.m. Ramsey said the victim, identified as Kirk Rongen, 44, of Jerome, was snowmobiling with another man when the accident occurred. Since there is no cell phone coverage in the area, Ramsey said the other man had to ride his machine all the way to Smiley Creek to make a 911 call.

Ramsey said it took several hours because of the rough terrain and weather conditions to locate Rongen and remove him from the area. He was eventually transported by a Heli Ski helicopter to St. Luke’s Wood River.

Terry Smith:


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