Washoe County Sheriff: Always ready to answer

Memorable mission

Deputy Baumann told the story of a very difficult rescue that took all of his skill and judgment to be absolutely on point

It was the last weekend of January 2021, and we had already done a morning search mission in Kiowa. We found and guided researchers and a doctor to the victim. They couldn’t get him out because of the heavy snow. So we headed back to Stead Airport to pick up RAVEN 7, our rescue Huey.

We hoisted the victim up with no problem and returned to Stead airport. During lunch we received an additional call from a missing snowboarder.

The snowboarder was on the east face of Slide Mountain. The area was partly cloudy with not too strong but turbulent winds. Even though it was partly cloudy, he could see the blue sky from where he was. We tried several approaches to the victim because of the clouds. We approached from the north, but the clouds were muddy, as well as from the east below the victim’s location. Tried to fly higher east/southeast but still couldn’t get in due to clouds. As I got closer to the victim’s location, the turbulence knocked the plane over. Tried many directions and even climbed the meadows to the north. After a while, I decided to rest in Washoe Valley to rest, rethink the situation and look for changes in the weather. Two skiers from Team Hasty were able to follow the victim’s tracks to him and confirm clear skies above their location. We tried again from below, southeast all the way up the ridge and again couldn’t get through the clouds and the turbulence was kicking me.

Reconfirming that the winds weren’t bad on the saddles and ridges, I continued into the meadows to the north. From there I assessed the conditions and decided to try to summit and try to descend on the northwest side. We were able to sneak through the clouds and down below the Monte Rosa ski area and find their location.

Once there, the visibility was poor due to the clouds. I was able to use the trees as reference points. I asked the rescuers to walk to the helicopter and get out of the toss they were in. It was more turbulent in the draw and had almost no reference. After seeing that they could barely move because of the deep snow, I decided to have them hold their position and slowly move the helicopter forward. We did a low lift to keep a good benchmark. We brought up the topic and a team member. Then I came back to the best reference point on a tree. I realized that riding one was a bad decision as I saw the remaining member struggle alone with the skis and gear with the gusts of wind. It took him a long time to pack everything. Once he was done putting the gear in the Bauman bag and it was ready, I moved the helicopter forward and we hoisted it up.

We backed up and maneuvered up the hill to the parking lot on the Slide side of Mt. Rose Ski Report to unload the subject and the two Hasty team members. From there we were able to maneuver north and down the valley to Stead airport.

About Theresa Burton

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