in memoriam: Ray Shriver

By Jim Stanford on February 15, 2012

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The Teton County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victim of today’s helicopter crash as Ray Shriver. He was 63 years old.

Shriver was one of the longest-serving members of the volunteer Search and Rescue team. He was a dog trainer, as seen in this video above. He once survived an avalanche on Teton Pass and was a veteran of many search missions throughout the region.

Shriver was quiet but possessed a wealth of knowledge. “He was a teacher,” said one member of the team.

He is survived by two sons, Zach and Matt.

Shriver was flying in the helicopter while responding to a fatal snowmobile accident on Togwotee Pass. Ken Johnson, a former U.S. Army pilot and veteran of dozens of rescue missions in the Tetons, was at the controls. One other member of the search team was on board and injured in the crash.

In 1991, Shriver and son Zach were buried in an avalanche in Snowshoe Bowl on the west side of Teton Pass and dug out by Jay Pistono.

In July 2000, Shriver took part in one of the Search and Rescue team’s most famous missions when actor and part-time resident Harrison Ford volunteered his helicopter to recover a dehydrated hiker. Johnson also was the pilot. Because of Ford’s involvement, the rescue garnered headlines and prompted speculation whether the mission was warranted, given the hiker’s condition.

The Jackson Hole News reported:

Shriver emphasized that the search team only summons a helicopter in grave circumstances. ‘We don’t take this lightly,’ he said. ‘Helicopters are dangerous. The circumstances we felt warranted it.’

Shriver wound up saving the actor some trouble, too:

Before reaching the hospital, the woman — whom Shriver said was ‘quite ill’ — began to vomit. ‘I was looking for barf bags, but there weren’t any,’ Shriver said. ‘I really didn’t want her barfing all over [Ford's] nice corporate helicopter with its nice leather seats. She barfed in my hat.’

Killed in the initial snowmobile accident on Togwotee Pass was Steven Anderson, 53, of Morris, Minn., authorities said.

Here is the latest release from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office:

The following is being released regarding the events associated with the helicopter crash on Togwotee Mountain, 6.7 miles south of Togwotee Mountain Lodge.

Teton County Dispatch received a call at 11:48a.m. reporting a snowmobile accident on Togwotee Mountain. Teton County Search and Rescue responded with a helicopter at 12:24p.m. crewed by a pilot and two Search and Rescue members. The helicopter landed at the accident scene, confirmed the condition of the victim and left the scene with plans to return with additional personnel. The snowmobile party, comprised of the victim’s family and friends, remained on the scene.

Upon departure from the scene, the helicopter proceeded south when it appeared to experience difficulty, and then went over a ridge, disappearing out sight. The snowmobile party contacted Teton County Dispatch to notify them of the situation. Radio contact with the helicopter was lost for approximately 45 minutes. During this time Teton County Search and Rescue began assembling a team to provide a ground response. When radio contact was reestablished, the helicopter crew confirmed that they had crash landed.

Multiple agencies responded to identify the location of the downed aircraft and to assist in the rescue operation.

As a result of the crash, Search and Rescue member Ray Shriver, age 63, was killed. The helicopter pilot and the second Search and Rescue member were transported to St John’s Medical Center for treatment.

Once all helicopter victims were evacuated from the scene, deputies moved to the scene of the initial incident which had resulted in the death of 53 year old Steven Anderson of Morris, Minnesota.

The causes of both crashes are under investigation.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

Again, my deepest condolences to the team, Shriver’s family and all involved.

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Posted under Deaths, Environment, Sports

32 Comments so far

  1. Scott February 15, 2012 10:57 pm

    Godspeed, Ray. Sending positive energy and sad condolences to your family and friends.

  2. hk February 15, 2012 11:35 pm

    Thanks for the vid Jim.

  3. Kelly February 16, 2012 12:32 am

    We will miss you Ray. Thanks for the leadership, support, friendship and guidance. WY K9 SAR

  4. Brad February 16, 2012 1:09 am

    Bad deal. Thought and prayers going out to all.

  5. Jim Woodmencey February 16, 2012 5:09 am

    Ray epitomized what a SAR volunteer is, but in every sense of the word Ray was a professional. My heart goes out to everyone at Teton County SAR.

  6. Sue February 16, 2012 6:04 am

    Ray is already deeply missed. He knew these mountains like no one else and loved being in them. He was an incredible teacher, mentor, and role model. I will not forget his kindness and the inspiration he provided to me and to others.

  7. Jonathan McLaren February 16, 2012 6:54 am

    Prayers and thoughts to the entire TSAR family. Ray will continue to shine and be a presence in all of the outstanding feets the TSAR family gives to this wonderful community. Godbless his sons and family may they be strong.

  8. Pete February 16, 2012 7:19 am

    It’s just a sad reminder that poor choices in the backcountry can affect people beyond those making the choices.

    Thanks for all the great work over the years, Ray.

  9. David J. Forker February 16, 2012 7:39 am

    Sincere condolences to Ray’s family and the entire SAR Community. We have lost a great friend and comrade. Those of us who trained and went on missions with Ray (and Kita and Paco) all profited from his professionalism, expertise and attitude.

  10. Mary Shriver (Mother of Ray) February 16, 2012 7:42 am

    My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your comments about my son. I know he enjoyed serving with sar and knowing Ray. he would do it all over again.

  11. Tracy Stull February 16, 2012 9:10 am

    My heart goes out to Ray’s family and friends. He was a true professional, and will be missed dearly! Ray made a difference, he gave so much!

  12. Kathie Chandler February 16, 2012 9:18 am

    So very sad another Fallen HERO god bless you and your family

  13. Rich February 16, 2012 9:55 am

    Who You Gonna Call?

    Teton County Search and Rescue: There when you need them

    http://www.lifeinthetetons.com/Teton-Valley-Magazine/Winter-2008/Who-You-Gonna-Call/

  14. jd February 16, 2012 10:08 am

    So sad. These people just dont get enough credit for what they do when that phone rings. We need to think about that evey time we head into the mountains.

  15. d. lehman February 16, 2012 10:23 am

    I just received word that we lost Ray doing what he loved to do, yet in the most beautiful place in the world.

    Once we start this journey of Search and Rescue, we cannot quit, it is a magical gift given to few, yet a burden as well.

    Our bodies fail as we get older, our beloved K-9 partners die, still we continue in some form or function.

    I sincerely feel that Ray paid back his old survivor debt long ago, and maybe some of ours too.

    I am honored to have had the privledge of knowing and working with Ray Shriver and all the Search Teams his life has touched.

    Yet another loss for the Jackson Hole community.

    d. lehman
    2/15/12

  16. Wascally_Wabbit February 16, 2012 11:30 am

    I didn’t know Ray, but he seemed like a guy who would be a treasure to know in any capacity. My thoughts are with SAR today and his family.

  17. Pete M February 16, 2012 12:09 pm

    Ray was on the scene of a catastrophic avalanche that my brother and I were in. He told me about the avalanche with his son and I could see the emotion in his face. His wisdom, words, and experience helped comfort me in a time of great loss. I think about him and all of the rescuers quite often. Thank you, Ray.

  18. Kevin Burke February 16, 2012 12:40 pm

    I’ve known Ray for nearly 20 years, mostly through his work at the County, but also as an outdoor enthusiast as well as through mutual friends on SAR. Ray was the consummate professional in everything he did. He will be sorely missed by everyone he touched throughout his life. My heartfelt gratitude to the folks at SAR, yesterday could not have been easy. My wife and I send our thoughts and best wishes to his family – including SAR and County Engineering. RIP Ray.

  19. Jayme Feary February 16, 2012 1:31 pm

    We lost a community treasure yesterday.

    Condolences to Matt and Zach and family, and the Teton County SAR and WY K-9 SAR families.

    I hope that wherever Ray is now that there is no more searching, only finding.

    http://www.lifeinthetetons.com/Jackson-Hole-Magazine/Winter-2012/Lost-Found/

  20. Bob May & Tovi Santiago February 16, 2012 2:08 pm

    You always did it right, Ray – - we will miss you and your professionalism in all that you did. Dogs will grieve today – along with SAR members and your family and so many friends.
    Godspeed, Ray.

  21. Scott T. February 16, 2012 2:59 pm

    I didn’t know Ray, but I know his boys were close to him. My heart goes out to them and the rest of the extended family that will miss him dearly.

  22. S Wakefield February 16, 2012 3:27 pm

    Sorry sorry for the loss, our thoughts & prayers are with the families and we pray for quick recovery for those injured. This amazing crew & probably this helicopter rescued my son & husband late 2010 after they spent the night on Togwotee. Thank you for your service. RIP Ray.

  23. Jim S February 16, 2012 5:32 pm

    What a shock. My thoughts go out to Ray’s friends, family, and the whole SAR crew. Memories run through my head ranging from a long ago day on the Pass with Ray and his sons lapping Christmas Tree to seeing him last week at the VVM. RIP Ray, you’ll be missed.

  24. Tetonrick February 16, 2012 6:12 pm

    My deepest support to the family of Ray. Thank you for you SAR service. Thank you to all the SAR staff

  25. Phil G February 16, 2012 10:44 pm

    Thanks Ray

  26. K B & diane February 17, 2012 10:57 am

    Goodbye, old pard. See you on the next summit.

  27. Greg C. February 18, 2012 10:37 am

    Such a shock to lose another pillar of our community. My thoughts go out to his family and co-workers. As a contractor, I was very fortunate to have dealt with Ray and valued his common sense and professional approach to his role at the County. Thank you, Ray, for that and know that you will be missed. Vaya con dios!

  28. Jim Stanford February 18, 2012 7:08 pm

    There will be a memorial Tuesday at Center for the Arts.
    From TCSAR:

    Join us to in remembering and celebrating the life of Ray Shriver.

    Friends, family and community members are encouraged to join us on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m. at the Center for the Arts to celebrate and remember Ray. The service will run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. with a reception in the lobby immediately following. In lieu of flowers, Ray’s family has asked for donations to be made to the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole earmarked for the Ray Shriver Search and Rescue Fund.

    We appreciate your support and thoughts and hope that you will be able to join us.

    Special thanks to CFA board and staff for making individual contributions to provide the Center space for this memorial gathering.

  29. Trish Davis February 19, 2012 10:22 pm

    I have had the privilege of being Ray’s neighbor in T/C Victor Idaho. He was always willing to help in any way, making sure things got done. Always had his dogs by his side. The community has lost a hero who gave it all.

  30. Paul Selsky February 19, 2012 10:35 pm

    I will never forget climbing and telemarking Popocatepetl (17,802′) and then climbing Citlaltépetl (18,491′) with Ray in 1981, as well as many other adventures. Thanks for the experiences Ray. Wishing you endless first tracks. Here is a link to a set of photos of Ray:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulinsac/sets/72157629394990611/detail/

  31. David Francis March 17, 2012 3:39 pm

    Ray and his canine Kita went in search for our 24 year-old son, Jon, who went missing in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho on July 15, 2006.

    Ray was a wise and comforting presence. He raised our moral and spirits. The Francis family is saddened by his loss.

    “On August 4, two dog teams, High Country Search Dogs and Wyoming K9 SAR arrived from the Jackson Hole area in Wyoming. The highly capable teams were led by Janet Wilts, a gently gruff, no-nonsense woman. The team’s energy, professionalism, skills, and confidence raised our hopes. They thoroughly covered the eastern side, surrounding forest, and drainage areas. This extraordinary search effort provided several dog scent indications (clues of Jon’s presence); but Jon was not found.”

    _Bringing Jon Home- Chapter 7.

  32. red fyler May 27, 2012 11:37 am

    did not know ray very long, but the time i worked with him,on searchs and at different training acadamies, it was fun…….ray being always calm and mostly silent………….i guess he was thinking all the time….will miss you buddy…..red fyler, next county over, fremony county, K-9 bloodhound tracking team…..so long ray

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