1 dead in Teton rescue helicopter crash

2012-02-15T21:05:00Z 2012-02-15T22:20:12Z 1 dead in Teton rescue helicopter crashBy KELSEY DAYTON Casper Star-Tribune and wire reports The Billings Gazette

LANDER -- A veteran member of Teton County Search and Rescue responding to a snowmobile accident was killed Wednesday in a helicopter crash on Togwotee Pass.

Ray Shriver, 63, died when the helicopter in which he was a passenger crashed about 6.7 miles south of Togwotee Mountain Lodge, according to a news release from the Teton County Sheriff's Office.

Another search and rescue team member and the contract pilot of the chopper were injured and taken to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson for treatment, the release said. Their identities and conditions were unavailable Wednesday evening.

The three were the only people on board the helicopter when it crashed.

The helicopter was leaving the scene of a fatal snowmobile accident when it went down, the sheriff's office release said.

Teton County Dispatch received a call at 11:48 a.m. reporting a snowmobile accident on Togwotee Mountain, the release said.  The helicopter responded at 12:24 p.m., landed at the accident scene, confirmed the condition of the victim and left the scene with plans to return with additional personnel, the release said.

The snowmobile party, which was made up of the victim’s family and friends, remained on the scene.

After leaving the scene, the helicopter headed south when it "appeared to experience difficulty." It then went over a ridge, disappearing from the sight of the snowmobile party, which contacted Teton County dispatchers to notify them of the situation.

Radio contact was lost for about 45 minutes, during which time Teton County Search and Rescue began assembling a team for a ground response. When contact was re-established, the crew confirmed they had crash landed, the release said.

Grand Teton National Park assisted rescue efforts for the helicopter crew, sending an additional helicopter and rangers to the scene, said park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs.

"We're helping to rescue the rescuers," she said.

A unified command center was established at the park, she said.

The Fremont County Sheriff's Office also helped, said Teton County Public Information Officer Charlotte Reynolds.

Once all helicopter victims were evacuated from the scene, Teton County sheriff's deputies went to the scene of the initial incident, which had resulted in the death of 53-year-old Steven Anderson of Morris, Minn. Details of Anderson's accident were unavailable Wednesday night.

The causes of both crashes are under investigation.

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