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Snowmobilers safe after rescue from remote backcountry

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Deseret Morning News graphic

A helicopter plucked two more stranded snowmobilers from a remote part of Box Elder County, capping a busy weekend for search and rescue teams.

The snowmobilers were found Monday morning by a Lifeflight helicopter sent to help search for the men, said Box Elder County Sheriff's chief deputy Lynn Yeates.

"They were due to be home by Super Bowl time," he said. "The wife called and had become concerned."

Search and Rescue teams from Box Elder, Cache and Weber counties were mobilized to search for the men in an area near Willard Peak. Searchers had a good idea of where the men had been snowmobiling because they had been out in the snow with members of the Box Elder County Search and Rescue team earlier in the day, Yeates said.

"There's lots of canyons, lots of ravines and lots of places to get lost. One of the machines broke down and they were at the bottom of a canyon and couldn't get out because of snow," he said. Police said 40-year-old Ellis Odriscoll of Honeyville and 34-year-old David Wagner of Roy found a nearby cabin, where they spent the night.

"We just hiked till dark and then decided we better shelter up," Odriscoll told KSL-TV. The men broke a window to get in and found food and firewood.

"They spent the night and came out when they heard the helicopter," Yeates said. The Lifeflight helicopter picked up the men and took them to Mantua, where they were reunited with anxious family members.

It was the fourth search that police were involved in over the weekend. Yeates said that on Saturday, Box Elder County searchers helped a man who became stranded at the bottom of a canyon in White's Valley, about 10 miles west of Tremonton.

"He got down at the bottom of a ravine and the machine wasn't powerful enough for him," Yeates said. The Cache County man was finally pulled from the ravine early Saturday morning. Deputies said he appeared disoriented. He was treated for frostbite and released, the sheriff's office said.

Sunday afternoon, searchers rescued three rabbit hunters whose vehicle had become stuck in the Hogup Mountains about 40 miles south of Snowville.

"They were in a four-wheel drive vehicle, but they got stuck in a mud bog," Yeates said. "They were fine. They had food, plenty of fuel. They just got stuck."

Searchers pulled them out a few hours after finding them. They were reported to be in good health.

Summit County sheriff's search and rescue teams helped find a missing Evanston woman early Sunday. Her snowmobile had become stuck. A Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter helped find her after a four-hour search. The 38-year-old woman was taken to Evanston Regional Hospital where she was treated for frostbite.

Yeates said the searches were taxing on Box Elder County's search and rescue teams, but they relied on neighboring counties for assistance.

He urged snowmobilers to know where they're going and stick to their plans. Also, he encouraged backcountry enthusiasts to bring adequate food, water, portable shelter, gasoline and spare tires. He said the two men involved in Monday's rescues did not take their cell phones with them to call for help.

"They didn't have cell phones with them," Yeates said. "Their cell phones were still in their cars."

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com