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Remp survives harrowing snowmobile mishap

| January 13, 2005 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum Western News Reporter

Thorough preparation and a rapid response by volunteers are credited with saving the life of a Libby man seriously injured in a New Year¹s Day snowmobile accident south of Troy.

Randy Remp was riding with about a half-dozen other snowmobilers in the Keeler-Rattle area when the accident occurred around 9 a.m. One of the machines had broken down, and Remp was giving the operator a ride out when one of the skis on Remp¹s sled hit a rock during a turn, pitching the snowmobile off the edge of a steep embankment.

³It was a pretty freak deal actually,² Remp said. ³I¹ve rode a lot of miles and pushed it a lot harder. We were just cruising along. We weren¹t doing anything stupid.²

Remp¹s passenger was able to leap to safety, but Remp was still on the machine when it crashed into two trees about 20 feet below. The impact broke his left leg in three places ? below the knee, above the knee and at the hip, and his head hit the tree hard enough to break the helmet he was wearing.

Remp immediately understood the severity of the accident.

³My biggest concern was staying warm, not to go into shock, not to draw my body temperature down too low,² he said.

In addition to the helmet with face protection that kept his head intact when it hit the tree, Remp was wearing quality clothing that would keep him warm and dry through the ordeal.

³I can tell you right now if I hadn¹t had good gear on I wouldn¹t be around right now,² he said.

Two of Remp¹s fellow riders headed the eight miles back to their vehicles to get help. The others stayed and built a fire to warm his body while keeping his spirits up with their companionship.

³Everybody stayed pretty calm,² Remp said. ³It was pretty amazing.²

Remp was covered with a space blanket, and avalanche shovels were heated over the fire and sandwiched between that blanket and another to warm him.

When search and rescue and medical help arrived at the scene, an evaluation of Remp¹s condition indicated that time was of the essence.

³ŒDying¹ would be a good way to put it,² Remp said.

It was determined that the best way to get Remp to safety would be to bring the Alert medical helicopter from Kalispell right to the scene of the accident, said Terry Crooks of David Thompson Search & Rescue. Several of the people on the scene were professional loggers, and they put their chain saws to work cutting a landing zone for the helicopter. By late afternoon Remp was in the hospital in Kalispell.

Crooks commended the work of Remp¹s fellow snowmobilers as well as that of the rescue personnel. The speed with which Remp was able to receive medical attention was a crucial factor in his survival, Crooks said.

³Broken legs like that, a few years ago were basically a fatality,² he said.

Remp also had high praise for those who came to his aid.

³It is incredible in this community how people help you,² he said.