A man injured Wednesday while working with cattle south of Broadview was rescued by an area rancher with a tractor after snow-drifted roads prevented emergency vehicles from reaching him.
The early afternoon rescue took place in an area off Buffalo Trail Road, said Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder.
Details on the man's injuries were limited, but Linder believed that the man was badly injured while working with cattle and may have been sent airborne by one of the animals. The man was injured enough that he couldn't get himself to help, Linder said. Even then it may have been difficult due to the winter conditions in that part of the county.
In parts of Yellowstone County surrounding Billings, snow depth has been reported at between a foot and 17 inches, said Joe Lester, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings. Closer to Broadview it's possible there's even more snow on the ground than that, he said, adding that it doesn't take much snow for piling drifts to become a serious barrier to travel.
The neighbor with the tractor is Justin Downs, a rancher from northwest of Billings who has answered the call for help before.
"He has pulled people out of the snow banks, and dug people out," Linder said. "From time to time we run into these things where you can't get in to them because of the weather conditions and we rely on neighbors to help us out."
Downs was contacted by a member of the Broadview Fire Department and picked up a medic from the ambulance nearby before setting out across the snow-covered landscape to get to the injured man.
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"The road going down into the place is kind of a cliff off to one side of it," Linder said. "Short of plowing it all out, which would have taken an extraordinary amount of time, the other option was to just take the tractor through the snow."
Downs set off from the road and began crossing cow pastures and fields. Linder said it was hard to estimate the distance traveled but that it may have been a mile from the road to the ranch. An approximate distance measurement using Google Maps showed the ranch to be 2 miles from the road where responders set up.
After the tractor arrived at the ranch, the medic helped stabilize the man's injuries with a collar before loading him into the tractor. In all, the drive to the injured man and back to the ambulance may have taken about 40 minutes.
Downs then returned for the medic who had stayed at the ranch.
"You can say this isn't the first time he's helped us out there," Linder said.
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