Snowmobiler who had been missing found injured near CookA Mankato, Minn., man clung to his snowmobile, alone and severely injured, as rescuers searched for him in the dark early Saturday morning in the vast network of the Arrowhead Trail system in northern St. Louis County.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
A Mankato, Minn., man clung to his snowmobile, alone and severely injured, as rescuers searched for him in the dark early Saturday morning in the vast network of the Arrowhead Trail system in northern St. Louis County.
But it was another party of snowmobilers who came across John Bastian, 41, at a spot on the trail near Cook about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, said 1st Lt. Kurt Erickson, director of the Cook station of the volunteer St. Louis County Rescue Squad.
Bastian was conscious and speaking with medics but incapacitated when Erickson arrived at the scene, he said. Bastian was taken to Cook Hospital and later airlifted to Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where he was listed in serious condition on Saturday afternoon.
In a news release, the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office said Bastian was traveling on the trail system with a group of seven snowmobilers on Friday evening when he became separated from the others. Bastian was reported missing about midnight after not showing up at his destination.
The rescue squad was paged about 2 a.m. Six rescue squad members began searching for Bastian on snowmobiles, Erickson said, focusing on an area from County Road 115 north to Orr. The rescue squad members put a total of 300 miles on their sleds, he added. Five St. Louis County sheriff’s deputies also participated in the search.
The other members of Bastian’s party had last seen him on the shoreline of Lake Vermilion and expected him to head toward Cook, but didn’t know what route he had taken. If other snowmobilers hadn’t happened upon Bastian, it might have been a long time before he was rescued, Erickson said.
“It could have been another five minutes; it could have been 12 to 18 hours,” he said. “We would stay at it continuously until we found him.”
When Erickson got the call about 9:30 a.m. that Bastian had been found, he had been about to call for a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter and for more rescue squad members from the southern part of the county to help with the search, he said.
Bastian was found on a fairly level portion of the trail that cuts through a heavily wooded, swampy area, Erickson said. Overnight temperatures were in the 20s. Erickson said he didn’t know how the accident happened, but it didn’t appear that Bastian’s snowmobile had struck anything. Erickson said he saw no indication that alcohol or excess speed was involved in the accident.