Quick action on the part of air traffic controllers, Civil Air Patrol personnel and Garfield County Sheriff's Posse saved the lives Monday of two men whose long-range, hot-air balloon was blown from Southern California to Utah.
The balloonists, Scott Hendricks, 30, and Ron Martin, 46, of Paris, Calif., were in serious condition Tuesday after their balloon crashed in the rugged Lost Creek area of Mount Dutton near Circleville, Garfield County. The two had departed Sunday evening from a Disneyland parking lot.Hendricks was being treated for back and leg injuries at LDS Hospital. Martin, a patient at Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch, has a compression fracture of the spine and a dislocated left shoulder, a nurse said.
Garfield County Sheriff Robert Judd said he and members of the Panguitch Branch of the posse were lucky in being able to rescue the men during heavy wind and just before a snowstorm moved into the area Monday morning.
"We lucked out on the rescue. Without the help of the Civil Air Patrol flying in just as the clouds lifted, we wouldn't have been able to find the men," Judd said.
Maj. Ron Lillie, deputy wing commander of the CAP, said CAP pilot Hal Ward and an observer, Jim Porter, both of Richfield, were in the plane.
Lillie credited Richard L. Stout, watch supervisor at the Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control Center at the Salt Lake International Airport, with initiating the search.
In an interview Stout told the Deseret News that a distress call from the balloonists was first received at 6:45 a.m. by the FAA Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, Calif. At the time the balloon was 22 miles north of Bryce Canyon.
"We had been watching the balloon intermittently on radar. Our controllers advised me that they lost radar contact at that point. The crew on the balloon told the L.A. center that they were going down hard, so I called the Air Force Rescue Center at Scott AFB, St. Louis. Personnel there were somewhat hesitant as to how to respond to the situation. We were very insistent that they contact the Utah Department of Aeronautics to initiate a rescue operation for the crew," Stout said.
Stout said less than an hour remained to get the search plane in and out of the air before the storm hit the area.
Others besides Judd in the jeep posse rescue effort were Denny Orton, Dave Dodds, John Talbot, Arnold Keown and and Russell Bulkley.
The storm Monday also caused a traffic fatality in Magna.
Lori Ann Neathery, 17, daughter of Allen Dale and Helga W. Neathery, 3035 S. 50th West, a Cyprus High School student, died of injuries shereceived when her car collided with a Granite School District bus on 2820 South near 7575 West.
Ivan L. Labrum, 40, 3393 S. Patrick Drive, Magna, the driver of the empty school bus, was uninjured.
Except for the ski resorts, southern Utah received the most snow from Monday's William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office for the National Weather Service, said Cedar City received 7-9 inches, and Fillmore, 8 inches of snow from the storm. Other amounts: Cache Valley, 4-6 inches; Kearns, 5; Olympus Cove, 6; Richfield, 3. Most ski resorts received about a foot of new snow. Other areas along the Wasatch Front received 2-5 inches.
Alder said 1.41 inches of water came from the 2.4 inches of snow that fell at the Salt Lake airport. By early Tuesday, total precipitation for November at the airport is 1.41 inches. The normal amount for November is 1.22 inches.
A lighter storm is forecast for Tuesday afternoon or evening, while still another storm Thursday and Friday could drop another 1 to 11/2 feet of snow in the northern mountains, Alder said.