Stranded paraplegic snowmobiler rescued near Aspen

By Real Aspen
Real AspenApril 23, 2012
Longtime local Denis Murray was rescued from the backcountry in the wee hours of Saturday morning after his snowmobile broke down.

At approximately 9:45 p.m. Friday, deputies said Lisa Wright of Aspen contacted the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office to report that her husband, Denis Murray, was stranded with his snowmobile in the area between Gold Hill and Taylor Pass in Pitkin County.

According to police: Wright and Murray had begun their trip on two snowmobiles from Aspen earlier in the day. The two rode from the base of Aspen Mountain, up the mountain and south along Richmond Ridge. In the area near Gold Hill and Taylor Pass, Murray’s snowmobile had broken down and become inoperable. Murray, who is a paraplegic, was not able to ride with Wright on her snowmobile. Wright was forced to leave Murray behind and ride out to seek assistance. Murray was well equipped with warm clothing, blankets, food and water.

After returning to Aspen, Wright contacted the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. In turn, Mountain Rescue Aspen was notified.

"Due to the risks to rescuers night time search and rescues operations are rare and are usually only taken on in cases of serious injury or illness. However, due to the potential risk of frostbite or other cold related injury to Murray, a night time rescue was deemed acceptable," the sheriff's office said in a prepared statement.

At 12:18 a.m. on Saturday morning, a Mountain Rescue Aspen hasty team left Aspen by snowmobile. Wright also accompanied the hasty team in order to guide them to Murray’s location. At 2:02 a.m. the hasty team located Murray. Murray was warm and uninjured. At 3:21 a.m., the hasty team with Murray arrived back at the base of Aspen Mountain. At 3:47 a.m., all Mountain Rescue Aspen members were out of the field and the search and rescue incident was terminated.

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