ATV Fatality

On Wednesday, August 16th, a little before 9:00 pm, a 76 year- old ATV rider was reported overdue.  The man was riding in the Little Bear area near the mouth of Gallatin Canyon.

Multiple crews from the various groups of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue conducted an extensive search of the many roads and trails in the region.  A Reach helicopter and a Two Bear Air helicopter also responded.

Around 3:00 am, a ground crew located the man, who was deceased, on a remote and rugged trail about three and a half miles from the nearest road.

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Three Search and Rescue Calls with One Fatality

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue started a busy night at 5:30 P.M. yesterday when  missing 72-year-old woman with dementia was reported missing in Big Sky.  Sheriff’s Deputies and the Big Sky Division of Sheriff’s Search and Rescue started a search and she was soon found walking in the area.

At about 6:40 PM, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office advising they had received a 911 call from a cell phone. Before the call was disconnected, a man had said that he was hiking when a rock fell on him and he was bleeding.  No more information was attained before the call was lost but Dispatchers were able to obtain general location information based on cell phone tower information and the search was started in the area of Lava Lake.  With a Gallatin County Deputy acting as incident commander, the Big Sky division of Search and Rescue was again activated. An Air Idaho Medical Helicopter based in West Yellowstone was mobilized to try to narrow the search area and was soon able to locate the injured hiker.  The helicopter was also able to find a landing area, care for the hiker, and then fly him to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for further treatment.  His injuries consisted of a broken left humerus, a broken left scapula, soft tissue damage to his right shoulder, and a laceration to the top of his head.  As usual, a person who has some form of communication when they need assistance is a step ahead.

Then, a little before 9:00 PM,  76-year- old Stanley Hamilton of Bozeman was reported overdue by his wife. He had taken his ATV and was riding in the Little Bear area near the mouth of Gallatin Canyon. Multiple crews from the various groups of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue conducted an extensive search of the many roads and trails in the region. The Reach medical helicopter and Flathead County Sheriff’s Two Bear Air helicopter also responded.  Around 3:00 am, a ground crew located Mr. Hamilton deceased on a remote and rugged trail about three and a half miles from the nearest road.  Initial investigation at the scene indicates he crashed and died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.


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Public Safety Academy This Fall

Ever wonder who keeps county residents safe, and how? If you have, the GCSO Public Safety Academy is a great way to answer your question. For ten weeks, one night a week, you can learn from the best in law enforcement, crisis intervention, search and rescue, and emergency medical services, for free.

The Public Safety Academy will lead you through how to make a traffic stop, judge which way a bullet entered, and perform hands-on CPR. You will be able to ride along with a GCSO deputy, sit beside a 9-1-1 dispatcher, and tour the Detention Center. You can try on the body armor worn by the Special Response team, learn about how undercover detectives track drug deals, climb inside an air ambulance, see how fast someone with a knife can be, and watch a K9 stop a bad guy. It is a great introduction to how public safety works in your community!

The 7th Academy will be held 6-9 pm every Tuesday from October 3 – December 5, 2017. Any Gallatin County resident 18 years and older is welcome to attend. To register, contact Captain Shane Frantz at or 582-2120.

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Clarkston Fire Contained

GCEM Media Release

Media Release:  170815-01
Contact:  Patrick Lonergan, (406) 582-2395

Clarkston Fire Contained

Clarkston, MT – The Clarkston Fire located North of the Clarkston is now contained.  Approximately 55 firefighters spent Tuesday mopping up hot spots and patrolling the fire.  As of Tuesday evening the fire is contained, ready to go into patrol status and the firefighters will be sent home.  While some smoke from the interior of the fire may continue to be seen over the coming days, the fire’s perimeter is secure and poses no risk of escaping.  Firefighters from the Clarkston Fire Service Area will continue to patrol the fire in the coming days.

The Clarkston Fire started Monday afternoon and quickly grew to a final mapped size of 143 acres and an estimated suppression cost of $75,000.  Two non-residential structures  were lost during the early phase of the fire.  Firefighters from Gallatin and Broadwater Counties, Custer-Gallatin and Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forests and the Montana DNRC responded on Monday to contain the fire.

The residents of Gallatin County are reminded that we are in the middle of fire season and to use safe fire practices when working or recreating outside.  While our area is wetter than many places in Montana, the Clarkston Fire is a reminder that our community is still capable of burning right now.


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Clarkston Fire

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  The fire reported in the Clarkston area North of Three Forks has been declared under control.  The human caused fire was reported about 1:30 P.M..  Fire Departments from around Gallatin and Broadwater County as well as the Montana Dept of Natural Resources, US Forest Service and local residents worked to bring this fast moving, approximately 250 acre, blaze under control.  Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputies did issue evacuation warnings to effected residents and the mass notification system was utilized for text, voice and email alerts. For information on how to register for these alerts go to  Helicopters as well as a few fire crews will remain in the area this evening and tonight and there will be fire patrols and work tomorrow.  Residents have been allowed to return to their homes but are being held out of the areas where helicopters are actively dropping water.  Citations were issued to two juvenile suspects for starting the fire.

Photo courtesy of Mt Dept of Natural Resources and the Sheriffs Office

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Fire in Clarkston

A fast-moving fire south of Miller Canyon is moving north. Residents should consider evacuating the threatened area or be prepared to evacuate if conditions dictate or change.

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Woman Rescued After Fall From Horse near Big Sky

(Big Sky, Mont.)

On Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 8:00 PM, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue at Big Sky and Paramedics from the Big Sky Fire Department responded to a backcountry rescue on the Porcupine Creek Trail.   A 73 year old female from Ohio had fallen from a horse and sustained a head injury.  The horseback guides used a satellite phone to contact emergency services.

Rescuers used all terrine vehicles to access the woman.  She was assessed and transported using a specialized one-wheel liter to Fire Department Paramedics waiting at the trail head then transported by Fire Department ambulance to the Big Sky Medical Clinic.

File photo courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office


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Sheriff Gootkin Injured in Motorcycle Collision with Deer

(Gallatin County, Mont.)

Sheriff Brian Gootkin  is recovering at Benefis hospital in Great Falls
after a motorcycle accident on Saturday, August 5. Sheriff Gootkin struck a
deer outside of White Sulphur Springs. He was taken by medical helicopter to
the hospital. He suffered several non-life-threatening injuries. At the time
of the accident he was wearing all of his protective gear, including a
helmet.  “If it wasn’t for the helmet I would not be here today,” said

Sheriff Gootkin is expected to make a full recovery. “I look forward to
getting back to the work of serving the people of Gallatin County.”


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Mountain Goats Cause Rescue on Bridger Ridge

(Gallatin County, Mont.)

On Sunday morning about 8:00, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and
Rescue Team responded to the Bridger Ridge Trail for a backcountry rescue. A
family of three from Spokane, WA was hiking from Fairy Lake to the “M” Trail
head via the Bridger Ridge Trail.  They were photographing some mountain
goats on a cliff above them when the goats knocked some rocks loose. One of
the rocks, about the size of a bowling ball, struck the woman in the leg,
causing injury and a severe laceration, making it impossible to hike out.
The family administered first aid and, after determining they could not
climb out, called 911.

Members of the Search and Rescue Posse hiked in to the family via Ross Pass
and members of the Heli-Alpine team flew into the scene with the help of
Central Helicopters. HAM radio operators managed communications between
Sheriff’s Deputy commanders, air and ground teams.  The trail is very steep
in that area. After determining that the time and exposure of a hand-carry
was too risky, the injured woman was flown off the mountain to a waiting
ambulance and then transported to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. The
remaining family members were brought off the mountain by the Posse via ATV.

The hiking party was well prepared for their hike and had ample food and
water as well as headlamps for travel after dark. Sheriff Gootkin stated
“This was a pretty technical rescue for the team because of the terrain, but
most of our calls are like this.  It is people being physically active and
enjoying what this County has to offer.  Mostly we respond to good people
doing good things who have a bad day.  I don’t know how you prepare for goat
assassins but I am glad we could help these folks out.”


Photo courtesy of Sheriff’s Office SAR

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Scam Alert


The Gallatin County Sheriff’s office continues to receive reports of scams being attempted or perpetrated on local residents. The most common theme amongst these scams is that they ask for payment via Green Dot or Western Union; which would not be asked for by a legitimate caller.

All of these callers are very persistent and convincing. They may leave messages for you to call them back in an attempt to establish legitimacy.  Most have foreign accents, and many will become unprofessional and threatening if you challenge their legitimacy.  These callers are able to spoof local numbers to get you to believe that the calls are being made from this area.  Do not trust your caller ID to verify anyone’s legitimacy; these are easily faked.

Do not send money to anyone you do not know, especially using prepaid cards of any kind; including Green Dot, iTunes, or Western Union money transfers. These are notoriously hard to track and are used almost exclusively by individuals or organizations involved in illegal activity.  If you get a message from a business or government agency, look up their real number and call their public number, not the one given in a message.

Recent area scams include:

Jury Duty Scam

One of the most popular schemes recently is to call and claim to be a member of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office. The callers are able to spoof local phone numbers so they appear to originate from Montana or even within our office.  The callers claim to be administrators with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and tell victims that they have a warrant and are subject to arrest due to missing jury duty.  The scammers then advise victims that they can pay to avoid arrest.  Eventually victims are convinced to purchase Green Dot Cards and give the scammers the card numbers over the phone.  The Sheriff would like to stress that this office, nor any other legitimate government office will never ask you to purchase Green Dot Cards as a form of payment.   We may call you to inquire your status if you miss jury duty, but we would not threaten you with arrest or ask for payment over the phone.


Callers have been representing themselves as Medicare or Medicaid representatives who need to update or gather personal information. Do not give out your information over the phone to an unsolicited caller.  If you need to, call the Medicare or Medicaid office directly and not the number the scammer gives you.


Callers will claim you have unpaid taxes that are due, and that you will be arrested if you do not pay immediately. Again, they will typically ask for payment via Green Dot or Western Union.  Some even have spoof websites they will direct you to and show you your tax debt.  People are directed to log into apps that allow you to view the caller’s computer screen.  On that screen, they will enter your information into a spoof website in an attempt to show you that it is real. Again, the IRS does not operate in this manner.

Canadian Jail

Callers representing themselves as long lost grand grandchildren will call stating they are in jail in Canada and ask for bail money. Again, do not send money.  An obvious sign that the caller is not legitimate is if they reference Green Dot and Western Union. A quick call to your relatives should help you determine that everything is OK and a scammer has targeted you.

Nigerian Lottery

The old “Nigerian Lottery” scam has once again become prevalent. In this particular scam, scammers send letters congratulating you on winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign lotteries.  Along with the letter, they will send you a check to deposit so you can send money to cover the fees and taxes associated with the winnings.  By the time you have deposited and sent money, the fake check will have bounced and you will have already sent the scammer what they want.  Do not fall for a fraud involving a lottery you have never played, in a country you have probably never been to.

NW Energy

The caller states they are from NW Energy and threatens to shut off your power if you do not pay your bill. Do not send them money via Green Dot or Western Union. Again, a quick phone call to your local company can verify the status of your account.

Credit Repair

We have also received reports of a “credit repair” agency that offers to deposit money into a victim’s bank account to improve their balance and thus improve their credit. The fraudsters actually deposit what appears to be US Treasury checks into the victims account via mobile deposit.  The victim is then required to repay the money using iTunes cards by giving caller the numbers over the phone.  In one particular case involving this type of scam, the victim was notified by their bank that the checks were fictitious.  This scam, like most, also involved a spoofed US number which had originated out of country.

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