SALT LAKE CITY—A Utah hunter trapped overnight in a blizzard dug himself into the snow to survive before searchers found him by spotting his rifles stuck into the ground, police said.
Trevor Valentine, 38, remained hospitalized in serious condition Friday after he tried to hike to a road when his pickup truck got stuck in the remote, mountainous area near the Idaho border, according to the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office.
Buffeted by blowing snow and a wind-chill temperature that dipped to minus 25, he dug a small hole for himself and crawled inside.
The spot was nearly invisible by the time winds had died down enough for crews to search the area Thursday, sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dale Ward said.
“The snow had drifted over him,” he said. “The poor guy was frozen.”
Sharp-eyed search and rescue crews spotted his rifles stuck straight up in the ground and dug down to find him, Ward said.
Valentine was awake and spoke with searchers who tried to relieve symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia as a medical helicopter crew worked to land in the windy weather.
Valentine had gone hunting Wednesday west of Snowville and texted his wife that evening to say his truck was stuck.
He decided to hike three miles to a state road to meet her but never made it, so his family called police.
Search and rescue crews got to the area near Wildcat Mountain that night but were stymied by blizzard conditions and drifting snow. They started again at sunrise and found him a few hours later.
Valentine, who lives in nearby Weber County, seemed to know the area but may have been overtaken as fast-changing weather blanketed the area with snow, Ward said.
He was dressed for the cold, but wasn’t prepared for a night in temperatures that the National Weather Service said reached minus 4.