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April 7, 2012 at 2:15 PM

UPDATE: Yakima-area snowmobiler found safe

There is not points to locate on the map

The Associated Press

UPDATE: | 2:15 p.m. YAKIMA — A 68-year-old snowmobiler who went missing near Tampico Thursday was found alive and “in fairly good shape” early Saturday, according to a Yakima County Sheriff’s Office news release.

The man — identified by officials only as Mr. Hayes — was located in a tree well at about 3 a.m. Saturday in the South Fork of the Ahtanum Drainage. He was taken by snowmobile rescue teams to the Ahtanum Snow Park and then transferred to an ambulance, which took Hayes to Yakima Memorial Hospital.

Hayes is being treated for exposure and possible frost bite.

“He’s a pretty tough guy,” George Town, coordinator of the Sheriff’s Office search and rescue team, said.

Search teams were yelling for Hayes when they heard him yelling back from a tree well in the early morning hours. Hayes told searchers he had been traveling downhill at about 1 p.m. Thursday when his snowmobile dropped into a tree well and became stuck. A tree well is formed when falling snow is kept by branches from reaching the base of a tree, forming an open area under the branches which can be several feet deep and dangerous.

Hayes was able to get the snowmobile unstuck but it fell into another tree well shortly after. He was able to start a fire but could not maintain it for lack of fuel, according to the news release.

Search teams were assisted by snowmobile units from the West Valley Fire Department and a helicopter from the King County Sheriff’s Office/ There were a total of 35 volunteers and paid personnel that participated in the search.

The man had gone snowmobiling alone at the Ahtanum Sno-Park, a popular snowmobile destination about 15 miles west of Tampico along the North Fork Road, and didn’t return home that evening.

Town said no one should go snowmobiling alone for safety reasons.

“It’s dangerous stuff as one can see,” he said.

Comments | More in General news, The Blotter | Topics: missing, Search, snowmobiler

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