'I am going to go back': Snowmobiler, 65, stranded in subzero temperatures for 3 days on Wyoming mountains loses legs
BIG HORN, WYOMING: A snowmobiler tragically lost his legs after being stranded in subzero temperatures in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains last month. 65-year-old David Madsen’s snowmobile reportedly got stuck at an elevation of about 8,000 feet on February 21. He then decided to dig a cave with a screwdriver under his snowmobile to wait out an incoming snowstorm.
“It changed within an hour,” the snowmobiler, a Hawick, Minnesota, resident told KRTV. “When I got stranded, it was zero visibility. You couldn’t see your hand.” The temperature dropped to 2 degrees and eventually below zero the next day, with a low of minus 17, Wisconsin State Journal reported.
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“It was really dumb how I was out there," Madsen said. “I didn’t have much survival gear or anything with me.” Madsen reportedly survived on snow and a Baby Ruth his glove box contained. He said he knew walking would not be possible due to the high snow drifts. He pondered over making snowshoes out of snowmobile parts as the weather continued to affect him.
'I knew I lost my legs'
At one point, Madsen even thought of killing himself out of pain and desperation. “By that time, I knew I lost my legs, there was no problem with me knowing that,” he said. “They were frozen in a solid block of ice.” His fingers survived as he dug the snow and ice around him. “You have to keep moving,” he said.
Madsen said he began seeing "mirages" and even imagined seeing a snow tractor and an airplane. He thought it was a hallucination when he was actually located by two snowmobilers three days after the tragedy began. “I said, ‘Are you guys for real? Or is this another mirage?’ He recalled breaking down after they said, "No we are real." He was reported missing by his hotel, the Bear Lodge Resort at Burgess Junction, that same day after his bill remained unpaid.
'I am going to go back to the mountains'
Madsen was eventually taken to St Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Montana. He is still being treated and will reportedly be fitted with prosthetics before he returns home. “He did a lot of smart things,” said nurse Heather Stamey, who works in emergency and critical care services. “He was able to keep hydrated and was able to find that candy bar to give him that extra little push. He did a lot of smart things because, as he stated, the outdoors is unpredictable.”
“As soon as I get good on them, I am going to do everything I did before,” he said. Maden said despite his terrible experience, he would want to return to the Bighorns on his snowmobile. “I am going to go back to the mountains, and, as soon as they get snow, spin all over that mountain, but not before a snowstorm and not without someone with me," he said.