From the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office
At approximately 5:20 p.m. on November 15, 2022, the Idaho County Dispatch received a call from the International Emergency Response Coordination Center. They had received an SOS from a Garmin Inreach device owned by Jonathan Conti, videographer/youtuber, of Boise, ID.
The given location was north of Walton Lakes, south of Powell Ranger Station, between Elk Summit Rd (Forest Service Road 360) and Tom Beal Park Rd (Forest Service Road 362).
Idaho County Dispatch used the link provided by IERCC to send a message to Conti. Conti stated that he had to be rescued as he had hiked in on snowshoes but had fallen into a ravine from which he was unable to climb out due to the snow being too thick. He had food, water and shelter and was safe for the night. He had parked his vehicle on Elk Summit Road about five miles from his location and was unfamiliar with the area, but told Dispatch he could make it as far as Walton Lake if that was a better rescue spot.
On November 16, 2022, Idaho County Sergeant Keith Olsen and Idaho County Assemblyman Stan Denham responded at dawn. The Idaho County Dispatch advised Conti to drive to the Walton Lakes Trailhead, about a half-mile from his location, and gave him the coordinates of where the deputies could pick him up.
Idaho County legislators exited Powell Ranger Station by snowmobile on Tom Beal Road. They cut numerous fallen trees off the road to get to the Walton Lakes Trailhead.
During this time, Idaho County Dispatch sent Conti messages with directions on how to get to the trailhead to meet the deputies, and Dispatch continued to receive responses from him saying, “What are you talking about?”, “I feel like I should.” wait this lake”, “I need someone to pick me up at this lake, so I called for an ambulance.”
Dispatch told Conti to get to 362 Road and drive slowly and steadily and take his time as there were no alternative options. Conti advised him to have a helicopter because it was impossible to go out since there was five feet of snow and the trail was gone. The dispatcher pressed Conti again, explaining how to get there, where to meet the deputies, and that it was not possible for a helicopter to land on a frozen lake. The MPs could only get so far in the snowmobile when they hit a rock face and he had to climb up to meet them.
Conti replied, “Fine, but I feel like I’m walking into a disaster.” Conti then walked the wrong way about 1/3 mile before walking back to Walton Lake and reporting to Dispatch at about 12:45 p.m sent that he had stopped to set up camp as he ran out of food, had energy and was scared.
With this information, the deputies left the trailhead and hiked down to Conti’s site, which was about a half mile in about two feet of snow. Conti was in good physical condition with no injuries and still had plenty of food and provisions in his backpack.
The deputies helped Conti set up his camp and brought him to the starting point. He was snowmobiled back to the ranger station, where the deputy’s squad cars were parked, and then driven back to his vehicle at 360 Forest Service Road.
We want to remind everyone that while a GPS-enabled device can be a lifesaver and a good tool to have on hand in case of an emergency, you should still be prepared for any wilderness adventure, especially at this time of year to do your research about the area you are going to and have a plan in case you get too tired to continue.