Preston man rescued after 27 hours trapped in snow cave: 'It's unbelievable'

Preston man survives 27 hours in snow cave.

BOISE - The Idaho backcountry, while beautiful, can be dangerous. 

"The backcountry can be really brutal any time of year but this time of year it can be really critical," said Jimmie Yorgensen with Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue.  

It's where minutes felt like hours for 20-year-old Kacey Hebdon. It all started with a day of snowmobiling with friends on Sunday.

"We were just doing our normal riding around, doing what we usually do when we go riding," said Hebdon.

A couple of hours later, he got separated from his friends during a storm. Fortunately, he had cell service - so he called his uncle, who know the area.  

"From what I told him and where I was really at, search and rescue didn't know exactly where I was at," Hebdon said. 

MORE20-year-old snowmobiler found in snow cave, rescued

Then he tried to backtrack but ended up going in a complete circle and running out of daylight.

"It was probably like 1 in the morning or so I ended up flipping my snowmobile over and starting it on fire because I ran out of dry wood," said Hebdon. "I needed something to keep warm."

The snowmobile ended up melting snow underneath, so he built a snow cave. 

"So I just kind of crawled in there a little bit and dug out a little bit more, big enough that I could fit underneath it," Hebdon said. "I was basically enclosed in there. No wind or snow could really get in to me."

"Once you're in the cave the temperature usually stays around 32, 33 degrees so it'll keep you from freezing to death if it's below zero outside," said Yorgensen.

The next morning, Hebdon says there was at least a foot of fresh snow, and by midday the search was called off because of white-out conditions.  

"I was just really wet and really cold," said Hebdon. "I really was just hoping someone would find me."

At this point he had been lost for over 24 hours, with his hope dwindling unsure if he would make it. He made a heartbreaking phone call to his mother. 

"I told them if I don't make it out of it that I loved them and everything," said Hebdon.

But a couple of hours later, on Monday evening, he heard his name being called.

"It was great," Hebdon said. "It was so nice for people to show up I was so happy."

In the end his friends found him and reunited him with his family.  

"It's still just unbelievable that it actually happened to me," said Hebdon. "I'm still trying to grab ahold of the fact that I survived it and it actually happened."

When he was initially rescued EMTs were worried Hebdon would lose some of his toes because of frostbite. On Wednesday, he went to the doctor and he found out he will be able to keep all of his toes, but his feet will be prone to frostbite. 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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