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"A PERSON THAT SAVED AT LEAST ONE LIFE WAS NOT BORN FOR NOTHING"

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SLEIGH RIDE

One more interesting story should be mentioned here, about a rescue operation in Jura on a snowy and cold night in February. That night a man, two horses and sledges were reported missing...

A woman phoned the Central Rescue Station of the Jura Mountain Rescue Team around 8 p.m. to inform that her husband had not come back from a sleigh ride that he organised for tourists.

The sleigh ride ended at 4 p.m. in front of a hotel. It was an extremely cold night, -25/30 degrees and the strong wind created deep snowdrifts. However, the interview with the family brought no conclusions: the missing man was 50 years old, he was healthy, strong and new the area backwards. He went in sledges drawn by two good horses. Although it was the middle of winter and the weather was frosty, all the public roads were cleared. What could have happened to him?

The rescuers suggested that maybe the man went to visit some relatives or stopped somewhere for a drink, but the family denied it. They said he was too responsible a man to leave his horses outside in such a weather....

Still, the disappearance was highly improbable. How can a man, sledges and two horses disappear off the face of the earth in the 21st century, in the middle of civilised Europe?

Just in case, the rescuers on snowmobiles and quads were patrolling the area. It was difficult as that was the time of winter break – season of sleigh rides, each of which left identical traces leading in all directions. The freezing wind and low temperature made the long search operation difficult, as rescuers had to make breaks to warm themselves up. 

After eight hours of hopeless search, with no trace and in fog and snowstorm, he was suddenly found!

You are probably wondering what had happened...

The man, warmed by the sleigh ride, cold, mulled wine or the tourists that made eyes at him (or all that together), decided not to take the cleared way which will bring him home in 20 minutes. Instead, he took the shortcut through the forest, following the snow-covered road that was used only in summer. Snowdrifts? He was strong, he knew the way, he had solid sledges and a pair of reliable horses. He was sure he would manage.

The problem was that apart from snow, the road was also covered in trees that the snow had broken. The whipped horses had managed to deal with some obstacles but were finally stuck. There was no way they could go forward, but they could neither go back. To make matters worse, the sledge shaft broke and the harness got tangled.

The driver tried to untangle his horses but after a few trials he sat down on the sledges to rest. It was probably the alcohol in his veins that made him feel warm and sleepy... He didn’t feel that he had lost his gloves or that his trousers are out of his shoes. He fell asleep in the freezing cold... for good. 

When the rescuers found him, he was on the verge of dying. His fingers were hard as porcelain, just as his feet. He wasn’t responding.

The race with time started. Under the bandages applied on the frostbites the man’s skin was peeling off. He was wrapped in a sleeping bag and a rescue blanket and transported on rescue sledges drawn by a snowmobile through the forest. The ambulance took him to the hospital in Zawiercie where the doctors managed to save his feet and hands. Unfortunately, he had all his fingers amputated which meant that he wouldn’t be able to play accordion by the bonfire any more...

We met him after a couple of months and he said: You know what? While having a beer with my friends we would often laugh about having mountain rescue here in the hilly Jura. And you saved my life...



 

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