Information provided by Civil Air Patrol’s National Cell Phone Forensics Team helped lead searchers late Tuesday to a 12-year-old Utah boy and his father lost in subzero temperatures and near-blizzard conditions in the Spanish Peaks area southwest of Bozeman, Montana.
The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center alerted the cell phone team after the child’s mother reported the pair overdue at 6:30 p.m. local time. Col. Brian Ready took the lead on the mission for the team.
By then 20 members of the Gallatin County, Montana, Search and Rescue Team – volunteers within the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office – were searching on snowmobiles and skis.
Searchers found the boy about 10 p.m. Hypothermic and dazed, he was transported to a nearby hospital. As he warmed up, a sheriff’s deputy asked him questions to try to get a better idea of where to continue the search.
“Gallatin SAR had a pretty good idea about where to look for the father, but the cell phone forensics helped to narrow down the search area to about 1 square mile,” Ready said.
“It was our privilege to work with the dedicated volunteers from Gallatin SAR and help them reunite father and son.”
The father was found shortly after midnight. Despite frostbite, he and his son were in reasonably good condition, according to the sheriff’s office, especially considering conditions.
A member of the Gallatin SAR team emailed Ready a photo of two members of the sheriff’s team with the boy at the hospital. “I was asked to pass a photo on to you and your team,” the accompanying message said. “It’s a picture of one of the individuals you helped us find this evening. Our captain wanted to let you know that what you do matters, and that we appreciate it. And I know there’s a family out there tonight that appreciates you as well.”
Passing along the message to the team at the AFRCC, Ready wrote, “A great result to an awesome team effort. The reason we all do SAR. Please know how much we appreciate your efforts.”
The AFRCC credited the cell phone team with two saves, bringing to 48 the total number of saves for CAP in fiscal 2019.