A Sweetwater County Rescue unit located a Wamsutter man who became stranded and tried to walk out of the wilderness early Sunday morning. A rescuer estimated the man was within hours of succumbing to the cold. The ordeal began when three people, two from Rock Springs and the man from Wamsutter, got stranded on Sweetwater County Road 18.

Distress call, weak signal:

"Sweetwater County Search and Rescue was activated at around 3:10 am after our office received a weak cell phone call from a man who had left his stuck vehicle on County Road 18 and was apparently trying to walk out to Superior."

Sweetwater Sheriff's Detective Dick Blust said a deputy found the two from Rock Springs who stayed with the vehicle.

First two people rescued:

"A heavy snow storm was in progress at the time, generating near white-out conditions. Corporal Matt Bartolotta was able to locate Rock Springs residents who had stayed with the stuck vehicle on County Road 18 about 3½ miles east of Superior. Though cold, otherwise unharmed."

Although the weather and ground conditions were challenging, the rescue unit was prepared.

Search and Rescue team:

"Sweetwater County Search and Rescue volunteers Chris Schutz, Ron Orr, Neil Kourbelas, Jeff Rasanen, Joyce Fett, Eric Schillie, and Troy and Jackie Nix brought two of the unit’s tracked over-snow machines and two search dogs to the scene."

The rescue unit then searched for the Wamsutter man, who was later found standing motionless in deep snow.

Within hours of being too late:

"In an advanced state of hypothermia, had difficulty moving his legs and had to be helped into one of the over-snow vehicles. He was transported by ambulance to Memorial Hospital in Rock Springs, where he was examined and released."

Given the condition in which the man was found, said Det. Blust, there's a lesson to be learned.

Stay with your vehicle:

"Given his serious level of hypothermia, had had about two hours before the cold would have overwhelmed him. The takeaway here is to stay with your vehicle in situations like this. Trying to walk out, especially in a storm at night, can have tragic results."

Sweetwater County Sheriff Rich Haskell expressed gratitude for the rescue team by saying, “This community owes Search and Rescue a lot. They’re always there when we need them and we’re very thankful for it.”