A New Jersey man who was lost near the North Fork of the Flathead River was found by the light of his cell phone shortly past midnight on Sunday.
According to Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry, search and rescue teams rescued the 21-year-old man after his vehicle got stuck on Thursday. He was in the area of the Whale Creek drainage, west of the Flathead.
He wasn’t able to free the vehicle and set off on foot at around 3 p.m. that day. He was reported missing Friday.
The U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, North Valley Search and Rescue and the Sheriff’s Office assembled a search team on Saturday morning. They found his vehicle that day, but the man was nowhere to be seen.
After midnight passed, the Two Bear Air helicopter located the man. He used the light of his cell phone to draw the pilot in, and Two Bear used night-vision imagery to zero in on him.
He was in heavy timber and steep terrain, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and had lost his shoes. Other than dehydration, he was in good condition.
The helicopter evacuated the man and brought him back to the staging area, where he was assessed by search and rescue personnel.
This is the latest nighttime rescue by the Whitefish-based helicopter rescue operation. In March, the crew spotted a 16-year-old girl who was separated from her grandfather during a hike in the Lion Mountain area.
Two Bear Air is funded by a Whitefish philanthropist and used largely by law enforcement and search and rescue agencies.