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Lost snowbowl skiers recovering from frostbite, thank rescue crews

By Will Wadley, KECI Weekend Anchor, wwadley@keci.com
Published On: Mar 02 2014 06:42:57 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

A skier who survived the night with his roommate lost in the backcountry outside Snowbowl is thanking their rescuers as he recovers from frostbite in the hospital.

19-year-old UM student Lucas Bonnevie released a statement Sunday expressing gratitude to Missoula County Search and Rescue, 911 dispatchers, and ambulance crews.

Bonnevie Bonnevie and his roommate, Matt Dustin, intended to take one last run of the day on Friday when they became lost, according to the release.

"We were going to ski to the car, which was parked below Snowbowl on the road," said Bonnevie. "The route is out of bounds, and we had skied it at least 4 times this winter with no problem.  With so much new snow, we took a wrong turn off the ridge.  When we realized we were in trouble, our friend, Neil Rissman, called Search & Rescue and I'd like to thank him for his help."

The two students expect to be released from the hospital Sunday night or Monday.

For more information, see the full press release below:

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MISSOULA, MT -- Lucas Bonnevie, 19, is one of two skiers rescued after spending Friday night lost out of bounds near Snowbowl.  He is recovering from frostbitten feet at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.

"I'd like to thank the Search & Rescue guys, especially Alex for dragging me out.  And the other two S&R guys for staying with Matt and getting him out.  The 9-1-1 operator that night was great, as were the Sheriff and Police department personnel I dealt with.  The ambulance crew took great care of me on the way to the hospital."

Bonnevie and his roommate, Matt Dustin, intended to take one last run of the day on Friday when they became lost.  "We were going to ski to the car, which was parked below Snowbowl on the road.  The route is out of bounds, and we had skied it at least 4 times this winter with no problem.  With so much new snow, we took a wrong turn off the ridge.  When we realized we were in trouble, our friend, Neil Rissman, called Search & Rescue and I'd like to thank him for his help."

Both skiers had their avalanche beacons on and activated.  In addition, they carried shovels, whistles, Avi-packs and Bonnevie had an extra pair of gloves.  "I want people to know that I knew what I was doing and how to get out.  The snow was waist deep, though.  We dug a snow cave in a tree well and used our body heat to stay alive.  I wasn't going to die and I wasn't going to let Matt die!"

The men, both 19, are students at the University of Montana and grew up together in Farmington, Maine.  Bonnevie, a freshman, took a year off prior to enrolling at UM during which he worked for AmeriCorps in California and Alaska.  He will be released from the hospital today or on Monday.  "I'm very grateful to be alive and want to thank everyone a hundred times over for helping us!"