Had become separated from wife as they rode in Moon Mtn. area
(Update: Adding video, more details from snowmobiler on what he did)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A missing snowmobiler from Arizona who became separated from his wife while riding in the Moon Mountain area west of Bend was found in good condition Saturday morning after an extensive air and ground search, officials said.
Around 9:40 a.m., John Pieratt, 54, was able to get to a location and call Deschutes County 911 dispatchers, said sheriff's Lt. Bryan Husband, Sheriff's Search and Rescue coordinator.
Around the same time, a SAR snowmobile search team arrived at his location, in a meadow area in the upper city of Bend watershed, just south of snowmobile Trail 8 and east of Trail 6, Husband said.
Pieratt "is reported to be cold and tired, but otherwise in good condition," Husband said in an update. He was being brought by SAR snowmobile teams back to Kapka Butte Sno-Park and reunited with his family.
Judy Pieratt called 911 dispatchers just before 6 p.m. Friday to report that she and her husband had been riding snowmobiles on Trail 6, near Moon Mountain, and he was missing, Husband said.
Pieratt’s wife said he is an experienced snowmobiler, but unfamiliar with the area, and was wearing warm layers and had food and water, Husband said.
Moon Mountain is southeast of Broken Top and northeast of Todd Lake, about 17 miles west of Bend.
Pieratt was riding a black Ski-Doo Summit snowmobile and was described as a healthy white male, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He last was seen wearing black snow pants, a bright green snow jacket, a bright green backpack, an unknown-color helmet and tennis shoes.
Two sheriff’s deputies and 11 SAR volunteers responded to assist in the search for Pieratt, Husband said. The volunteer teams included seven snowmobile team riders, two air operation team members and two incident management team members.
An AirLink air ambulance crew assisted in an aerial search for Pieratt, with two SAR air operations team members helping with navigation and observations, Husband said.
In addition, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center was contacted and assisted with cellphone forensics, since Pieratt had a cellphone when he went missing, the lieutenant said.
SAR teams, AirLink and AFRCC searched into the night, covering all of the surrounding snowmobile trails in the area, also monitoring Pieratt’s cellphone for any assistance that might provide in narrowing down his current location.
Around 2 a.m. Saturday, SAR teams were recalled to the Bend SAR headquarters for searcher safety, and to wait for daylight and improved searching conditions, Husband said.
About five hours later, two deputies and 19 SAR volunteers resumed the search, including 10 snowmobile riders, two tracked Argo ATV operators, three air ops team members to work with AirLink in aerial searches, three incident management support members and one logistical support team member. AFRCC also continued to assist in the search.
With numerous snowmobilers and other winter recreators in the search area, anyone with information on Pieratt’s location had been urged to call dispatchers or 911.
Husband later told NewsChannel 21 deputies learned Pieratt, with limited survival skills, used branches as a makeshift blanket to stay warm during the night.
Pieratt also took off his wet shoes and socks, then used his gloves for shoes, the lieutenant said. And he turned his phone off when he still had half of the battery left, so it wouldn't run out overnight.
Husband said you should be extra careful when traveling into backcountry, especially in times when there could be extra demand on law enforcement resources.
"At this time, we would ask everybody that is going into the backcountry to enjoy that area to be conservative in their approach, enjoy the outdoors but stay within their means," he said.
Husband also said SAR has revised their procedures to deal with the novel coronavirus. For example, he said, someone calling dispatchers for rescue might be asked if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, like a fever.
Search and Rescue also is now practicing social distancing, he said, and using gloves and masks when in contact with people.