One Glove - One Love

Mother who lost son gives back in a big way
By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

SAR photo by Crystal Arnold

SAR members and Kathy Shott (second from the right) make their way up the Mystic Lake trail in September to visit the spot where Shott’s son died.

Photo by Crystal Arnold

Kathy Shott and two SAR members at the location of Chase Shott’s death.

Photo by Chase Shott

A selfie of Chase Scott taken during his hike.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Shott

Chase Shott's glove, hiking pole and sunglasses were found in the area where he died 11 months later.

This time a year ago, most people would guess that Kathy Shott was feeling anything but thankful.

On Oct. 18, 2017, a sheriff’s deputy in her hometown of Roscoe, Ill., knocked on Shott’s door at 11 p.m. and delivered the devastating news that her only child — 26-year-old Chase — had been killed in a hiking accident near Mystic Lake.

Twenty-four hours later, Shott and a friend were sitting in the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office listening to Sgt. Randy Smith and Victim/Witness Advocate Tammie Mullikin explain what had happened.

Shott retrieved her son’s belongings and vehicle and returned to Illinois. But in the midst of her grief, her thoughts kept drifting back to the Stillwater County Search and Rescue crews (SAR) who had retrieved Chase’s body and returned him to her.

Shott learned that SAR was a volunteer organization comprised of people who risk their lives for people they do not know and very often used their own money for training and equipment. She also learned that some families never get their loved one’s body back, when recovery is deemed too dangerous or just impossible.

Profoundly thankful, Shott began giving back to SAR to help them on future missions.

She founded a non-profit group designed to help SAR financially, as well as a scholarship for the massage therapy program opened in her son’s memory.

“I became very determined to continue helping in any way I could,” Shott told the News.

The non-profit is named “One Glove - One Love” because Chase was found wearing only one of his gloves.

Shott began collecting money last winter when she refused Christmas gifts and instead asked people to donate to One Glove – One Love. The response has been big.

At a fundraiser held last month in Illinois, Shott raised $6,000 for SAR. That check arrived last weekend.

“I am pretty much speechless,” said SAR Logistics and Communications Officer Crystal Arnold, adding that with money Shott sent the team previously, she has donated approximately $10,000.

A RISKY RECOVERY

The Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office dispatch was notified of Chase’s death by two nurses in the area who had actually witnessed the fall from an outcropping above. They ran to Chase in hopes of giving aid, but found he was already deceased. The women then ran down to the Mystic Lake Power Plant to summon help.

SAR believes Chase fell at least 30 feet onto granite boulders, resulting in fatal head injuries. His death is believed to have been almost immediate.

Using headlamps, SAR members hiked up the mountain in the dark. The decision to make the recovery at night was made because crews knew the exact location of Chase’s body and there were several experienced SAR members available who had been on a recovery in this location prior.

“Not to mention the team as a whole knew if it was our family member, we would definitely have preferred immediate action over waiting until morning,” said Arnold.

Dropping temperatures, a 20 mph wind and rain did not deter the team during the 4.5=mile trek to Chase’s body.

Using the trolley over the dam and a special basket in which Chase’s body was packaged, SAR lowered Chase 50 vertical feet through loose rocks.

From there, the team worked its way down the mountain, toward the dam, with the basket on a type of wheel that resembles an ATV tire. The path across the dam is roughly 24 inches wide with a 100-foot drop on one side and water on the other. It was just the third SAR mission in that area during the last decade.

SOMEONE’S SON

As is normally the case, no SAR members knew Chase. But they knew he was someone’s son, a friend, a co-worker and was deeply loved.

Chase was a personal trainer who had become a certified massage therapist the same month he died. He was seven days into a 2-month long “trip of a lifetime” when his life ended in the Beartooth Mountains.

“It was planned to be a 2-month journey out west, then back home to start his own business doing personal training and massage therapy,” said Shott. “He had a BA in Kinesiology, was a certified personal trainer and had just graduated from Bodycraft Wellness and Massage.”

He was the only child of Kathy and the late Larry Shott, who got hooked on hiking as an Eagle Scout at age 15. Sadly, Chase lost his father to cancer in October 2014.

Chase and Kathy were close. He texted her the morning of his death to say he was buying supplies for the hike. At 9 p.m., the worried mother texted Chase. At 10 p.m., she received a text back that contained a map of the area Chase was in. She exhaled.

But her relief was brief. At 11 p.m., a sheriff’s deputy knocked on her door with the death notification.

MIRACLE ON THE MOUNTAIN

This last September, Kathy and a friend made their way back out west, stopping at all the locations Chase had visited, guided by the photographs he had taken along the way.

“We stopped everywhere we knew from his pictures and journal that he had been. We went through the Badlands, to Devil’s Tower, and finally to Montana,” said Shott.

Four SAR members (and one of their families), Kathy and her friend hiked to Mystic Lake.

“Along the way, I saw some of the gorgeous scenery that Chase had photographed. It was absolutely awesome to see something and it looked familiar because of his pictures,” said Shott.

At one point, SAR member Chad Arnold put his arms around Shott and told her they had arrived at the spot where Chase had passed away.

SAR members held back hikers on either side of Kathy so she could have a bit of time at the spot to sprinkle Chase and her husband’s ashes.

“So kind, so caring, so thoughtful,” said Shott of the team’s actions that day.

And then something miraculous happened.

Eleven months after the accident, Chase’s other glove, his hiking pole and his sunglasses were found.

“I was truly hit with the fact that this was a miracle that had been saved for me,” said Shott. “How, 11 months later, through every kind of weather, could Chase’s lost items have been recovered by the team who recovered him, and while I was there? I felt like everything had come full circle. What a blessing I could come home with.”

STILLWATER COUNTY SAR

The 14 volunteers who make up Stillwater County SAR receive approximately $32,000 a year through the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office. That pays for limited training, GPS equipment, a jet boat and a truck. One round of rope training certification eats half of that total, meaning the volunteers spend their own money on equipment, First Aid items, backpacks, radios and more.

So far this year, SAR has responded to 18 mission calls, the most recent being a river rescue just two weeks ago. That is up from the normally yearly average of 12, with hunting season still in full swing.

Among the volunteers are Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office employees, Sibanye-Stillwater workers, Montana Silversmiths employees, one from an environmental safety company, the Billings Gazette and three own their own business or work in a family business.

Crystal and Chad Arnold have been members for nearly 15 years. Crystal, who serves as the logistics and communications officer and is a civilian member of the sheriff’s office said that of that total budget, $2,000 is always earmarked for a Christmas party at which members are awarded for their hours of service.

“We give raffle tickets based on the amount of hours given for trainings, call outs and missions. The prizes all being equipment or gear we can use on a mission or in our personal time recreating,” said Crystal.

Those items include headlamps, trekking poles, camp stoves, fire-starting supplies, first aid kits, compasses, climbing harnesses, snowshoes, etc.

“As you can imagine that fund gets depleted pretty quickly and we base our incentives on that yearly,” said Crystal.  “Kathy has managed to give us more than just money. She has given us the ability to feel comfortable in showing our appreciation to our volunteers.”

 

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