A Columbus hunter was rescued from the Lee Metcalf Wilderness last week after being tossed from his horse and sustaining life threatening injuries.
John Chepulis, 65, was hunting with two other friends in the Shedhorn Creek drainage southeast of Ennis, when his horse spooked. He was tossed to the ground and his companions realized he was in grave danger, according to a press release issued by Madison County Sheriff Dave Schenk.
Chepulis had a satellite personal tracking device and his partners turned the device on to the emergency setting, which caused it to send a signal to the International Emergency Response Center in Montgomery, Texas. The response center in turn contacted the Madison County Sheriff’s Department and Summit Life Flight from Bozeman, according to Schenk.
Madison County Search and Rescue teams were mobilized to get Chepulis out, but Chepulis was nearly six miles into the backcountry.
Fortunately, Summit Life Flight was able to track Chepulis down from the air and land nearby. They loaded Chepulis and took him to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.
The accident happened on 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 30. Chepulis was at the hospital by a little after 2 p.m.
Chepulis suffered flail chest and a collapsed lung and was in critical condition when life flight arrived on scene, according to Schenk’s report.
It is certain the satellite personal tracking device was key to Chepulis recovery, said Chris Noon, member of Madison County Search and Rescue. These devices can quickly lead rescuers to your location in the case of an accident.
“From a search and rescue point of view, to have the coordinates of where they are to start with really narrows down our search parameters,” Noon said.
These devices are becoming more popular with backcountry skiers, hunters and snowmobilers, he said.
“They’re very cheap insurance,” Noon said.
In his press release Schenk credited Chepulis’s survival to the quick action by Summit Life Flight crew, who risked their lives in a remote wilderness to get him to safety.