ND: Motorist rescues Victoria goose hunter lost in North Dakota slough
March 26, 2010
Motorist rescues Victoria goose hunter lost in North Dakota slough
FORMAN, N.D. - Whitey Bommersbach was driving to work about 6 a.m.
Thursday when he noticed a flash of light off to the side of North Dakota 11
in rural Sargent County.
"I just happened to look out in the countryside, and I saw a light out in
the water and the cattails," said Bommersbach, a county highway worker.
He stopped his pickup and shouted toward a flooded marsh area to see if
someone needed help. "I hollered and hollered. Pretty soon, I heard
something," Bommersbach said.
"A hunter had gotten disoriented, or something. He wouldn't have lasted
too much longer," said Bommersbach, who hustled the cold and wet man into
his pickup truck.
"His eyes were froze shut. His mouth was froze shut. He couldn't hardly
say nothing," said Bommersbach, who phoned the county shop and had fellow
workers call an ambulance.
As they waited for help, Bommersbach said the man, identified by the
Sargent County sheriff's office as John Utecht, Victoria, Minn., near the
Twin Cities, eventually warmed up enough to hand Bommersbach the keys to a
nearby truck, where Bommersbach found Utecht some dry clothes.
"I sort of had to smack him a couple of times to keep him from slipping
off into a coma or whatever," Bommersbach said. "He kept saying he was
stuck, he was stuck. He wasn't making any sense."
An ambulance took Utecht to Oakes Community Hospital.
A hospital spokeswoman said she could release little information about
the incident, but said a man was treated for exposure Thursday morning.
Contacted by phone Thursday afternoon, Utecht's son, Zach, said his
father was en route for home and feeling much better than he was earlier in
the day, when the hip waders he was wearing filled with water while he was
stalking snow geese in the pre-dawn darkness.
"It was pitch-black and he got into the cattails and he went through some
water. He got himself into a little bit of a bind," Zach Utecht said.
The National Weather Service said early morning temperatures in Sargent
County on Thursday were about 20 degrees. Winds of 5 to 10 mph created a
wind chill of about 5 degrees.
Bommersbach said the light that caught his attention while he was driving
came from a flashlight Utecht had strapped to his head.
He added that Utecht's clothing was so frozen, his knees wouldn't bend
when Bommersbach tried to get him into his pickup.
To keep Utecht alert and awake, Bommersbach tried to keep him talking.
"I said, 'This will be a story you'll tell your grandchildren,'
Bommersbach said. "He said, 'Oh my God, if you didn't come along. If you
didn't come along.'".
Return to Hunting Accident Index
Fair Use Notice: This document may contain copyrighted material
whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. We believe
that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes
a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section
107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted
material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must
obtain permission from the copyright owner.