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Three C. Oregon snowmobile crashes kill 1, injure 2

By KTVZ.COM news sources
Published On: Mar 22 2014 10:17:30 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 23 2014 10:54:54 PM CDT
Santiam Pass snowmobile crash LCSO

Linn County Sheriff's Office

Life Flight helicopter was called to area near Santiam Pass where snowmobile crash left a Lebanon man with fatal injuries

BEND, Ore. -

Three snowmobile crashes in Central Oregon on Saturday afternoon killed one rider, a Lebanon man, and injured two others, authorities said.

Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley said deputies were investigating a snowmobile crash that resulted in the death of a Lebanon man.

Around 4 p.m., Linn County 911 dispatch received a call reporting the crash near Hoodoo Ski Bowl on the Santiam Pass.

The victim, identified as George Elmer Eichner, 67, of Lebanon, was operating his snowmobile when he crashed into a tree. Eichner was part of a snowmobile club and was riding with a friend, Alen Lee Wargnier 44, of Keizer.

Black Butte and Camp Sherman medics were called to the scene and Life Flight was activated, sending a helicopter to the location.

Eichner, who was wearing a helmet, suffered a severe head injury. He was pronounced dead at the scene about an hour later, the sheriff said.

Eichner's body was taken to the Sweet Home Funeral Chapel.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Linn County sheriff's deputies also were assisted by members of the Deschutes and Jefferson county sheriff's offices, Hoodoo Ski Patrol and the Black Butte Police Department.

Earlier Saturday afternoon, Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue volunteers responded to a pair of injury snowmobile crashes in the Moon Mountain area.

The agency was told around 12:10 p.m. of a head-on injury snowmobile crash near the top of Moon Mountain, a popular riding area between Mt. Bachelor and Broken Top west of Bend.

A group of SAR volunteers were a few miles away, conducting avalanche training, when the call for help came in, said Deputy Jeff Winters, assistant SAR coordinator.

A team of five volunteers headed to the crash scene on snowmobiles with medical supplies and a transport sled, arriving around 12:35 p.m.

Upon arrival, they treated injured rider Mike Galvan, 43, of Portland, and placed him in the "ambu-sled," Winters said. He was taken to the parking lot at Dutchman Flat Sno-Park, where a Bend Fire Department medic unit was waiting to take him to bend with non-life-threatening injuries.

A nursing supervisor said Galvan was treated and released.

Winters said the other snowmobile rider in the crash was part of the group Galvan was riding with and was unhurt, the deputy said, adding that alcohol was determined not to be a factor in the crash.

The five SAR volunteers were back at Mt. Bachelor, refueling, re-packing and demobilizing their snowmobiles and rescue gear from that mission when word came around 2:50 p.m. of a serious-injury snowmobile crash near Ball Butte, in the Moon Mountain area.

As the SAR team headed back to the area, an Air Link helicopter also was dispatched, due to the nature of the injuries and the reported condition of the rider, identified as Thomas Gibson, 57, of Terrebonne.

Before the SAR team arrived, Forest Service personnel who were on snowmobile patrol arrived and began setting up a landing zone for the helicopter. The SAR team arrived and began treating Gibson, then helped carry and load him onto the helicopter for the trip to St. Charles Bend.

The nursing supervisor said Gibson was in serious condition at the hospital Saturday night, but had improved to fair condition by late Sunday.

Winters said the SAR team was told Gibson and his wife had been riding double on a rented snowmobile. Gibson drove the snowmobile into a large tree well, and when it hit the wall of the tree well, both riders were thrown over the handlebars,

Gibson's wife reported superficial injuries and did not require medical treatment, the deputy said.

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