Posted: Apr 6, 2011 8:05 AM by Melissa Anderson (Helena)
A Helena man is in lucky to be alive after being lost in the mountains near Hogback for nearly four days.
Chris Moratelli, 30, is now in St. Peter's Hospital, being treated for hypothermia and exhaustion, according to Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton.
Moratelli was reported missing around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday after taking off for a weekend outing on Friday. He apparently never showed up for work on Monday.
According to authorities, Moratelli parked his Jeep and was going to hike to a Forest Service cabin near Indian Flats to stay the weekend for his birthday. He was alone in the trek and due to inclement weather he became disoriented and never made it.
Rescuers found him around 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday lying by the side of the road.
Authorities tell us that his body temperature at that time was about 91, which is dangerously low. Moratelli was able to tell rescuers that he spent the first night in a tree well.
Dutton said that Moratelli was within a quarter of a mile of the cabin.
Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement and Forest Service personnel searched his tracks into the snow but lost them due to inclement weather.
Finally a search helicopter from Great Falls picked up on some tracks where they traced him back onto the road.