UNION, Oregon – A man from Imbler is recovering from injuries he sustained in a snowmobile accident Wednesday at Flagstaff Butte.
Mauri De Lint, 47, set out from Catherine Creek Snow Park for a day of snowmobile riding. Shortly after reaching Flagstaff Butte, De Lint explains “I found myself in a very unfortunate circumstance”.
In a detailed account he shared on Facebook, De Lint said he had just hit the throttle to “shoot through some trees and over a small (snow) drift to catch a better line up the ridge.”
Little did De Lint know that the drift was actually concealing a very large and deep rock-faced ditch.
“I impacted the rocky ledge with full force,” De Lint said. “I was thrown over the front of the sled impacting face first breaking my helmet visor in half. Taking the handle bars in my right thigh and pelvis. I rebounded off the sled and rocks and dropped to the bottom of this hole. My goggles and helmet were full of snow and I couldn’t see. I was at the bottom of a ten foot deep trench. I immediately felt blood running down my right leg and could feel a very large bump protruding from my right upper thigh.”
De Lint said all his riding buddies had BCA (backcountry access) radios but him, however, he did have cellular service and called 911 requesting an air ambulance and rescue.
For the next 15 to 20 minutes, De Lint tried repeatedly to reach by cell phone his riding partners, including longtime friend, Kevin Cassidy, 48, of Haines. De Lint said once contacted, his riding partners arrived in a matter of minutes. While first aid was being given, De Lint was on the phone with someone quite familiar with emergency situations – his wife, Anita. His wife, an emergency room nurse, was at work and summoned the help of an ER doctor to talk to De Lint about his injuries
De Lint estimates it took a Life Flight Network helicopter, based out of La Grande, nearly an hour to reach his location.
“The helicopter pilot is truly amazing and was able to land much closer than anticipated,” said De Lint.
Next came the hard part, hauling De Lint from the ditch to the helicopter’s landing site.
“We were fortunate to be near a ridge top,” Cassidy explained. “We were able to keep him in a stable position as we had to move him about 150 yards from the bottom of the ditch to the landing site.”
In sharing his story online, De Lint also thanked Life Flight Network paramedics Rob Felk and Tyson Botts who De Lint said, “crawled into the hole to help take care of me.”
Once loaded into the air ambulance, De Lint was rushed to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where he was treated for injuries to his right leg, right thigh and groin area.
While De Lint and Cassidy acknowledge it’s snowmobile season, both stress the importance of rider safety.
“I’d definitely encourage the buddy system and to have communication with each other – that is key,” De Lint said. “And establish a plan, a route and know where everybody is at.”
Both men said having the personal locator beacon helped the Life Flight Network pinpoint their location and aided in setting up a safe landing zone.
De Lint, who has also been a ski patrol volunteer at Anthony Lakes Resort since 2014, credits his training and those who trained him.
“I have many times played the part of the patient with a femur fracture and the first responder to mock training exercises,” he said. “Strange to end up being the patient. But helps me have a better perspective on what the injured person would be going through.”