Man responding to avalanche report injured in crash

The Associated Press

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A 19-year-old man who believed his friends were stuck in an avalanche was seriously injured when he crashed his speeding snowmobile into a metal gate as he rode to their rescue in the dark.

Missoula County officials say the would-be rescuer called 911 at about 11:30 p.m. Friday to make the avalanche report. Search and rescue teams responded along with a private rescue helicopter.

Officials said the man was thrown from the sled when he hit the gate. Two Bear Air pilot Jim Pierce says the helicopter crew spotted him at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday while they were looking for the supposed avalanche victims.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Brenda Bassett says the two men who called the victim said they had gotten stuck on their snowmobiles, but were not in an avalanche.