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Man Says Dog Saved His Life After Snowmachine Crash

Published On: Mar 04 2014 04:46:48 PM AKST   Updated On: Mar 04 2014 10:14:16 PM AKST

Reporter Caslon Hatch, Editor Eric Sowl


An injured Trapper Creek man whose golden retriever stayed with him overnight after a Sunday snowmachine crash, leading other snowmachiners to him, says he might not be alive if it wasn't for his pet.

Otis Orth, 52, says he hit a snowdrift and flipped his snowmachine on Sunday. He was unable to move and had to spend the night with only his dog Amber to keep him warm.

A few other snowmachiners had stayed an extra night in the area, and when Orth heard them close he told Amber to go alert them.

“She stayed really close to me,” Orth said. “She could tell I was shivering and I was cold. I mean, her running out and getting those guys on that snowmachine, I mean, it was just -- I could totally relax then.”

AST spokesperson Megan Peters says that while troopers don’t know exactly how long Orth spent outdoors, he was definitely there overnight. The circumstances of the crash, in which the rear tread of his snowmachine broke through ice in a marshy area and caused Orth to be thrown, also made him hard to spot.

“It was a pretty flat area, but his snowmachine went on into a thicket of trees,” Peters said. “Also, his body heat melted the snow, so he sank down into it.”

After Amber led snowmachiners to the scene, medics and troopers -- including Trooper Lucas Hegg from AST’s Talkeetna post -- went to the scene near Jake Lake Monday afternoon. Hegg appears with Amber in a photo taken at the scene of Orth’s rescue.

“(Hegg) actually snowshoed out to the location to do what he could to assist,” Peters said.

Orth, who was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage for treatment of his injuries, was grateful Tuesday for Amber’s aid.

“I mean, she probably saved my life,” Orth said.

Channel 2’s Garrett Turner contributed information to this story.