Six Minnesota men spend night in Wyoming woods
HASTINGS, Minn. -- Six men from Hastings spent a cold and wet night in the elements after they encountered an unforgiving snowstorm and darkness while on their snowmobiles as they vacationed in Wyoming.
The six were missing for about 18 hours. They were supposed to return their rented snowmobiles at about 4 p.m. Tuesday. When they didn’t arrive with the sleds on time, word got out to rescue crews and local law enforcement personnel. By Wednesday morning and early afternoon, news spread and loved ones back in Hastings were called. Nobody had heard from the group since the previous day.
It turned out that the six had spent the night in the woods and were found at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The six are Max Jacoby, Richie Jacoby, Aaron Peine, Brent Zeien, Travis Krinkle and Kyle Ryman.
Richie Jacoby said the group was on a trail and heading back to their lodge. About a foot of snow fell throughout the storm, though, and as darkness approached, it got harder and harder to stay on the trail. They soon realized they were off the trail and two men in the group got stuck.
“There was so much snow,” Jacoby said. “We were wore out and weren’t gaining any ground. We got to an area where it was safe, and we all agreed – we’d just camp out, build a fire and regroup in the morning.”
They had a shovel, water, some food, matches and a saw, and got to work setting up a camp. They dug out a shelter, got a fire going with the gas from the snowmobiles and did their best to stay warm.
“Everybody kept in good spirits and good moods,” he said. “That made it easier for everybody.”
The temperature was in the low 20s overnight, but with their gear they were able to stay relatively warm.
Early the next morning they started to discuss a plan to get out of the predicament when they heard crews. A guide from their lodge named Lefty came upon them and helped them get out. It turns out they were just a half-mile off the trail.
“We were all tired, but as soon as we heard him, we were alert,” Richie Jacoby said. “Wide awake. Ready to go.”
The six followed Lefty out, got on the trail and got back to the lodge.
Rescue crews were stationed at the lodge and were shocked to see the six all show up in good shape.
“It was a relief,” Jacoby said. “We pulled in, and everybody was waiting. They were impressed that we were all in good shape. They couldn’t believe it when we walked in the door, all six of us, and we looked normal.”
Soon, the six were able to start calling their loved ones back here to tell them what had happened.
“It was a relief, for sure,” Jacoby said. “It’s a trip to remember.”
Their story was featured in the Jackson Hole News, which interviewed Teton County Undersheriff Bob Gilliam.
“After they realized they weren’t getting out, they did the right thing,” Gilliam said. “They hunkered down and built a fire and stayed warm and dry.”
Teton County Search and Rescue began the search at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
The group had cellphones, but nobody could get a signal. They had even dug their way up a big hill to try to get service up there, but that didn’t work either.