Missing Man Found

The search for a 68-year-old male from Burbank, California thought to be missing from the campsite on the Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake has concluded. His body was located underwater approximately 300 feet from the shore of Hebgen Lake near his campsite.

On June 23, 2017, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue deployed additional resources in a continued search for the camper that began yesterday afternoon. Resources from Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue included the Posse, dive team, and canine teams. Additionally, a helicopter from Central Helicopters, Yellowstone National Park Rangers, Forest Service Law Enforcement, and personnel from Flathead County Sheriff’s Office with specialized underwater detection equipment responded to assist with the search.

Evidence on scene indicated that the male may have entered the water in an attempt to retrieve a small pontoon fishing boat that had blown away. The cause of death is still under investigation by a Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputy Coroner.


Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Missing Man Found

Madison River Rescue

On June 23rd, 2017 at 0402 hours, deputies responded to a single-vehicle crash witnessed by a semi-truck driver who was traveling east on Interstate 90.  The driver witnessed a car traveling westbound cross through the median and eastbound lanes of travel before leaving the roadway and ending up in the Madison River.  The vehicle floated down river until it became hung up on the bedrocks of the river.  The sole occupant of the vehicle was able to stand up through the sunroof of the car.  Three Forks Fire used a throw bag to get the man a life vest while Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to the scene.  Using a boat, Search and Rescue swift water rescuers were able to get the man to shore and to the waiting Three Forks Ambulance.  The man was transported to the hospital. Search and Rescue members assisted the tow company with getting the vehicle out of the river.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind drivers to pull over if they are traveling and tired.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Madison River Rescue

Man Missing on Hebgen Lake

A search is ongoing for a 68-year-old male from Burbank, California, who is thought to be missing from the campsite on the Madison Arm of Hebgen Lake, approximately 3 miles north of West Yellowstone.

On June 22, 2017 at approximately 5:00 P.M., a Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office deputy investigating the report of a vehicle parked in a day use area on Madison Arm Road responded with Forest Service Law Enforcement. They found a campsite which appeared to be in use but were unable to locate any individuals present in the campsite. After a short time, they located an empty pontoon fishing boat beached on the north side of the Madison Arm. They also located some clothing on the shore of Hebgen Lake which appeared to belong to the individual associated with the campsite.

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue has responded to the area. Due to the unknown circumstances surrounding the incident, air and marine resources are currently being employed in the search.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Man Missing on Hebgen Lake

Summer is Here

June 19 saw the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team called out for two rescues, both of which ended happily. Shortly after 4 pm, Dispatch received a call from a mountain biker on the “M” Trail. He reported that a 60-year-old woman on the trail was feeling dizzy and needed assistance. Search and Rescue volunteers and AMR responded to the scene. They reached the woman quickly and were able take her down the mountain in a one-wheel litter. When she reached the ambulance, the Bozeman woman stated that she probably did not have enough to eat or drink prior to hiking. Once she was checked out by AMR, she refused transport to the hospital.

At 4:34, Dispatch received a call for a climbing rescue. A 23-year-old male had a equipment malfunction while climbing and got stuck, approximately 25 feet above the ground. He was unhurt. He and his climbing partner were unable to clear the problem, so the second male hiked out to the trailhead and called for help. Rescuers responded and reached the stuck climber about 45 minutes after the initial call. They quickly freed the man using a Leatherman and made sure he got down safely.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind hikers to be prepared before heading out to the backcountry, even for a short outing. This includes being properly nourished and hydrated, and carrying basic emergency gear. Sheriff Gootkin would also like to thank the committed volunteers who make up the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Summer is Here


U.S. Geological Survey
Thursday, June 15, 2017, 9:03 PM MDT (Friday, June 16, 2017, 03:03 UTC)


44°25’48” N 110°40’12” W, Summit Elevation 9203 ft (2805 m)

Current Volcano Alert Level: NORMAL

Current Aviation Color Code: GREEN

The University of Utah, a YVO member agency, sent out the following press release about a magnitude 4.5 earthquake near West Yellowstone, MT that occurred at 6:48 PM MDT.


University of Utah Seismograph Stations

Released: June 15, 2017 07:55 PM MDT

The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reports that a light earthquake of magnitude 4.5 occurred at 06:48 PM on June 15, 2017 (MDT). The epicenter of the shock was located in Yellowstone National Park, eight miles north-northeast of the town of West Yellowstone, Montana. The earthquake was reported felt in the towns of West Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana, in Yellowstone National Park, and elsewhere in the surrounding region. Today’s earthquake is part of an energetic sequence of earthquakes in the same area that began on June 12. This sequence has included approximately thirty earthquakes of magnitude 2 and larger and four earthquakes of magnitude 3 and larger, including today’s magnitude 4.5 event. Today’s earthquake is the largest earthquake to occur in Yellowstone National Park since March 30, 2014, when a magnitude 4.8 event occurred 18 miles to the east, near Norris Geyser Basin.

Anyone who felt the earthquake is encouraged to fill out a survey form either on the Seismograph Stations website: www.quake.utah.edu or the US Geological Survey website: earthquake.usgs.gov.

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) provides long-term monitoring of volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region. Yellowstone is the site of the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world and the first National Park. YVO is one of the five USGS Volcano Observatories that monitor volcanoes within the United States for science and public safety.

YVO Member agencies: USGS, Yellowstone National Park, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, UNAVCO, Inc., Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey 


Jacob Lowenstern, Scientist-in-Charge



Sheriff’s Office Conducts Mounted Patrol Basic


This four-day course is being hosted by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office the week of June 12-15, 2017 in Bozeman, MT. The course covers the skills and tools sworn horse and rider teams need to operate safely during special events and on patrol.

The training includes obstacles and desensitization, mounted arrest, officer safety, crowd control, formation riding, and public relations. Basic equitation, policy, and equipment will also be covered.

The course will be instructed by Gallatin County Deputy Jackie Stewart and Deputy Brian Dickerson with the GCSO Mounted Patrol. Also instructing will be Jackson PD’s Sgt. Russ Ruschill, Commander of the Jackson PD Mounted Patrol and the Citizen’s Mounted Unit.

The course will be held at the Circle L Arena located at 4350 Spain Bridge Rd. between Bozeman and Belgrade, MT.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, beginning at 1:30 pm would be a great time to see some of the highlights of the course. The group will also be in uniform training in Manhattan Thursday afternoon.

For more information contact Captain Shane Frantz at 406 582-2120 or at shane.frantz@gallatin.mt.gov.

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Sheriff’s Office Conducts Mounted Patrol Basic

Cancelled – Western Gallatin County to See High Rivers Friday

The National Weather Service has revised their forecast for the Jefferson River as of 10:00 am on Tuesday June 13th.  The new forecast shows a forecast of 7.6 feet on Friday for the Jefferson River in the Willow Creek and Three Forks areas.  Please disregard Media Release 170613-01 (below).


GCEM Media Release

Release:  170613-01
Contact:  Patrick Lonergan, (406) 582-2395

Western Gallatin County to See High Rivers Friday

Three Forks, MT – The Jefferson River around Three Forks and Willow Creek is forecast to approach Moderate Flood Stage Friday morning.  The current forecast is for the Jefferson River to crest at 8.4 feet around 7:00 am and historically the community has seen roads and homes affected at a height of 8.5′.

People in the area around the Jefferson River are encouraged to closely monitor the river and use caution if they encounter flood waters.  Property owners who feel their property could be affected from flooding should develop a plan now on how they will protect their property if they are affected by flooding.  The highest water level will likely mostly during the night, so don’t be caught off guard.  Gallatin County’s Emergency Management Director Patrick Lonergan points out, “Once flooding has occurred, the damage is done and it is often too late to protect your property.  So develop a plan on how you will protect your property and don’t be afraid to implement it.”

Information on current river information, flood preparedness and flood safety is available at ReadyGallatin.com/flooding.


Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Cancelled – Western Gallatin County to See High Rivers Friday

Missing Hiker Found

(West Yellowstone, Mont).

On Tuesday June 6, 2017, Gallatin County Search and Rescue completed their two and a half day search for an overdue hiker in the Beaver Creek area northwest of West Yellowstone, Montana.  At 11:30 this morning a search team including a k9 discovered the hiker, identified as  Mike Petersen of Bismark, North Dakota,  deceased a quarter mile south of the confluence of Beaver and West Fork Creeks.  A Gallatin County Sheriff’s Coroner will determine cause and manner of death.

The event began near 10:00 pm on Sunday evening with the report of a 42 year old male from North Dakota who failed to return to the designated rendezvous pick-up point. The Mr. Petersen has been in the Beaver Creek area several times over the past four (4) months, knew the area and had backcountry experience. He left on his hike with enough survival equipment to stay in the forest and signal for help.  Initial search activity included personnel from the West Yellowstone division of Gallatin County Search & Rescue, Hebgen Basin Rural Fire District, Air Methods helicopter and Two Bear Air Rescue Helicopter from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.  Air Methods conducted an initial search by air until rainy weather forced them to land.  Two Bear Air picked up the air search a couple of hours later using Forward Looking Infa- red Radar throughout the early morning hours of Monday.  Air efforts then continued throughout Monday with Two Bear Air, while they also assisted in moving ground resources into the designated search zone.

Mondays ground search efforts consisted of 25 individuals from Gallatin County Search & Rescue crews from West Yellowstone, Big Sky, and the Gallatin valley; National Forest Service Personnel, Hebgen Basin Rural Fire District, and three K-9 dog search teams.

Tuesday’s continued search efforts involved the same personnel from Monday with additional air resources from Central Helicopter, and ground teams from Madison County SAR, Ruby Valley SAR, and Department of Livestock. The total ground personnel was in excess of 40 individuals.

Gallatin County Sheriff’s office would like to offer his condolences to the family of this tragic accident and to thank all of the volunteers who came together in this very large scale search and rescue event.  Sheriff Gootkin commented that in the last few weeks water tragedies are all to common.  He said “Especially this time of year when water levels are high extra caution around water is needed.”

Photo courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office.




Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Missing Hiker Found

Sad Sunday

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  Sunday, May 28th, at 6:00 pm, Gallatin County 911 received a report of a nine year old girl that slipped and fell into Arch Falls along Hyalite Creek and had not resurfaced. The call to dispatch was delayed due to the hike and drive time it took for the reporting party to get to cell phone service near the entrance to Hyalite Canyon.​The Sheriff’s Office, Hyalite Fire Department, AMR, Reach Air, Central Helicopters, and the Water rescue, SAR Posse, Alpine, Radio/Hams, and Hasty groups of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to the scene. While ground crews made their way to the scene on foot and ATVs, helicopters searched the creek from the air. Hiline Productions also responded with a drone to assist in the search. In addition to searching, Central Helicopters used a sling to carry equipment to search and rescue members at the falls.

​The swift, near freezing water from the spring run-off, along with numerous terrain hazards including log-jams, made rescue efforts extremely dangerous. Specialized equipment and a series of rope riggings had to be used by rescuers.

​Around 9:30 pm, rescuers were able to recover the girl, identified as Juliana Currie, from a log-jam right below the falls.

​Sheriff Gootkin stated that our hearts ache for the family. Despite the massive rescue effort and the skills of the search and rescue volunteeers sometimes things don’t turn out like we hoped they would. He would like to remind everyone that running water, even small creeks, streams, and ditches, can become extremely dangerous during the spring run-off. The water can be deceivingly swift, cold, and murky. ##### 

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Sad Sunday

Text of Sheriff Gootkin’s Press Conference

(Bozeman, Mont.) Following is the text of the prepared statement delivered by Sheriff Gootkin at todays press conference.

Please direct any additional questions or comments to 406-582-2125, or sheriff@galllatin.mt.gov.  Any updates or press releases will be available online at www.Gallatinmedia.Org.

At 5:08pm yesterday, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report of an assault. When Deputies arrived, Greg Gianforte cooperated by providing an initial statement.  Upon conclusion of the statement, he left the area.  At the time that he left the premises, he was not under arrest and the investigation continued.

The Deputies recognized this would attract significant public interest, and as a result, Detectives were immediately contacted to assist with the investigation. The victim was transported to the hospital for evaluation.  Detectives responded to meet with the victim at the hospital.  Witnesses were escorted to the Law and Justice Center for interviews.

As interviews were being conducted, Greg Gianforte’s attorney contacted our office. It was at this time we communicated our desire to obtain a follow up interview.  This request was later declined, and we were asked to direct all further communications to the attorney.  Every citizen is guaranteed their right to an attorney, and cannot be compelled to provide a statement.

The Detectives determined probable cause existed to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault. The State of Montana has two Assault charges.

  1. “Assault- a person commits the offense of assault if the person: purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another”.  This is a misdemeanor.
  2. “Aggravated Assault- A person commits the offense of aggravated assault if the person purposely or knowingly causes serious bodily injury to another or purposely or knowingly, with the use of physical force of contact, causes reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury or death in another”.  This is a Felony.

Serious bodily injury is defined in Montana State Statute as Bodily injury that involves:

  1. A substantial risk of death.
  2. Extreme physical pain.
  3. Protracted and obvious disfigurement; or
  4. Protracted impairment of the function of, or loss of, a bodily member, organ or mental faculty.

In this case, the victim did not sustain serious bodily injury, as defined by Montana State Statute, nor did he communicate reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury at any time during the investigation. Reasonable apprehension is determined throughout the course of an investigation.  This is the reason why Law Enforcement conducts investigations without jumping to conclusions.

There was no existing circumstance that required immediate arrest; no threat to public safety, no further threat to the victim, and the suspect was not a flight risk. Our Deputies frequently investigate incidents similar to this. Based on the facts gathered during the investigation, through interviews, and collection of evidence, probable cause existed to issue a Notice to Appear to Greg Gianforte for the offense of misdemeanor assault, for which he is ordered to appear by June 7th in Gallatin County Justice Court.  At this time, the case has been referred to the Gallatin County Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

I want to address my campaign contribution to Greg Gianforte back in March, when he announced his candidacy for US Congress. I apologize for not mentioning this in my press conference last night.  The reason it never crossed my mind was that we were busy investigating this incident.  There have also been questions and concerns that because of the contribution, there may be a conflict of interest and another agency should have investigated.  I respectfully disagree.  The citizens of Gallatin County elected me to do a job and this incident occurred in our county and was our responsibility to investigate.  The contribution made in March has absolutely nothing to do with my duties and responsibilities as the Gallatin County Sheriff or this investigation. #####

Posted in Media Release | Comments Off on Text of Sheriff Gootkin’s Press Conference