SPOT Saves A Wyoming Man’s Life

SPOT, a satellite messaging device for those in remote areas to get their location to help when times get tough, saved a Wyoming man after he was shot in the leg by accident. Phillip Herweyer was riding a horse in a remote area of the South Fork of the Shoshone River scouting for elk in preparation for the upcoming hunting season. While Herweyer and his companion Karinthia Harrison were in the remote area, the lead rope from a pack horse became wrapped around his .45 long Colt pistol causing it to discharge. The fired round entered Herweyer in the back of his right calf and exited around his shin, no word on how extensive the damage is.

After Herweyer had been shot, he activated his SPOT unit which sent his GPS location and an emergency signal to a central dispatch center. The dispatch center alerted local authorities at about 2:14 pm that there was an emergency beacon activated prompting the center to send out a search plane and a medical helicopter from a nearby town to search for the injured man. Thankfully Herweyer was quickly found and transported to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for treatment at 5:30 pm.

You can learn more about SPOT by clicking HERE. It is a pretty cool solution for people who love being in the middle of nowhere but still want to be able to summon help easily. At least for me it would provide some peace of mind that all I have to do is push a button and help is on the way no matter how far out in the boonies I was.


  • Blake

    Glad he made it out & that he’ll be OK.

    But here’s the question: “the lead rope from a pack horse became wrapped around his .45 long Colt pistol causing it to discharge.” Does this qualify as Negligent Discharge?

    Seems to me that either:

    – the rope pulled the hammer back on a live chamber, a state in which you’re never supposed to carry a single-action revolver (modern repros have a “half-notch” between chambers so that you can safely “park” the hammer with all 6 chambers loaded), or

    – it’s a dual-action revolver & the rope somehow got buggered up enough to pull the trigger, which I have a really hard time believing (unless the revolver doesn’t have a trigger guard, in which case you shouldn’t be using it on trails & around horses & stuff anyway).

    Either way, sounds like N.D. to me…

    • DanGoodShot

      Gun went off when he didn’t mean for it to. So, yeah, regardless of “how” it’s an ND my friend. The way I look at it is 99.9% of accidents are do to negligence.

    • Full Name

      The empty chamber is for drop safety. If the rope pulled the hammer back, the cylinder would have rotated off the empty chamber anyway.
      Whole thing seems fishy to me…

  • Julio

    I’m very glad the gentleman in question received the best possible medical care at the earliest opportunity, but I can’t help wondering who is paying for the plane and the helicopter. Would this be covered by insurance or permits or general taxation?
    In this case, the rescue-ee [?] clearly had sufficient perception of the risk he was running to equip himself with an emergency messaging device, but did he also take out insurance against the cost of rescue? Should he have been required to?
    I find the question about who should pay for rescue services when things go wrong after individuals have voluntarily put themselves at risk a hard one to answer.
    I wonder too if the possibility of needing to fire a quick shot in defence of himself, his partner or their horses, and the consequences of not being able to do so, really offset the risk of carrying an exposed firearm.
    I’ll be the first to admit that risk is rarely clear-cut and that it is far easier to be wise after an incident than before it!

    • me

      I would assume that his insurance will pick up a portion of the emergency room and surgery cost. However I know life flight helicopter rides can cost 10s of thousands for even a short trip, add in a search and rescue plane and I’m sure whole accident will be well over six figures.

      Even with the astronomical price of modern emergency/medical services I’m sure this man is thankful. He will probably still be able to walk and live a productive life.

      Just think of what the outcome of an identical situation would have been less than a hundred years ago. Your only option would have been self rescue. Probably a tourniquet above the knee, struggling to make a fire and cauterize the wound. The only pain relief would be a shot of whiskey and a stick in the mouth. A long painful horseback ride back to town where hopefully someone with enough medical knowledge could amputate your leg without you bleeding to death or causing infection so bad you die anyway.

      • iksnilol

        >Tfw you’re in Norway and pay your medical care through taxes so you don’t really worry about getting a six figure bill for getting lost in the boonies

        • Me

          In the United States roughly 30% of my income is taxed and gone before I even get a check. Then you pay another 10% sales tax anytime you buy something. Virtually none of it is spent on anything worthwhile and still our country is in debt up to our necks.

          • iksnilol

            Funny. exactly 36% of my income (above 50k NOwhich is the same as 6k USD) is taxed. Then most item have 25% tax that is calculated into the price.

    • Porty1119

      I believe that SPOT provides up to $10,000 worth of coverage, as an insurance-like component of the coverage plan that these use.

      • Ronin John

        Correct, part of the SPOT fees that you pay are insurance to cover you being recovered in a remote location where a SPOT would be perfectly suited. They are great little gadgets, I have one and use it to send “I am ok” signals to my family when traveling to areas with no cell service. They get the message and then can see where in the middle of nowhere I may be camping or traveling.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        That’s awesome.

        • Tim

          LOL It’s only awesome until the bill for the medivac chopper comes and you find out it’s $50K.
          Not sure what regular health insurance or Medicare pays for emergency transport. They seem to be using helos more and more in both rural and urban areas these days

          • Sunshine_Shooter

            Yeah, you’re right. For 50 grand, I’ll just die in the wilderness, all alone. I’m sure my wife will understand.

      • Yep that’s true and if you buy the device why not add the coverage.

    • Sean

      I recently did work for the local search and rescue unit in Cody Wyoming that handled this. Spoke with the director about some of the interesting things that have happened lately and he told me that they do not charge the people they rescue for their services. Taxpayers pick up the bill, even for the idiots they rescue multiple times over the years.

  • Dave Y

    One thing to know about the SPOT units. If they fail to initialize – that is, make contact with the satellites, they silently don’t recover until you power down / power up with better satellite signal. More importantly, you don’t necessarily know that you don’t have a solid signal, especially on the earlier generation units. It doesn’t take a lot of interference to mess with the earlier gen units too. Mine failed to initialize in a small town in Germany, I missed the LED indicators telling me it was ok or not ok. For the rest of that leg of the trip it sat there like a bump on a pickle. You can have it send location data to email or track it on a website if you pay the extra money on the plan and this can help you avoid the failing to get the sat. signal issue.

    I have used SPOT once successfully to get help in a remote area, and the unit dutifully notified my contacts who got in touch with me by cell. I was out of the country and in a pretty remote stretch.

    The newer spot units are much faster to get satellite signal, and a bit more ‘robust’ in keeping the signal.

  • Porty1119

    SPOT looks like an awesome solution…I would’ve loved one of these while hiking to various abandoned mines in New Mexico this spring. No cell service for twenty or thirty miles, so I had to rely on a CB mounted to the truck, which could be a couple hours’ hike away. You bet I was packing the whole time, and wasn’t alone either.

    • I think a PLB is a better option. They have no monthly fees.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    So much for revolvers proving that carrying semi-auto pistols with loaded chambers is perfectly safe…

    • iksnilol

      Well, no problem with a loaded semi-auto, problem is when they’ve got no safety.

  • derpmaster

    I’d be very interested to see an article comparing all these locator beacons – SPOT, PRB, EPRIB, etc. Maybe throw in ADS-B and INMARSAT for kicks. Maybe not fit for TFB, but probably the parent outdoors blog.

    • HH

      Ive seen just such a comparison in Outdoor mag or whatnot. As expected each has their pros and cons.

    • In locating ability within most places people will be they are about even.

      SPOT messengers can send messages and allow others to track your journey. But they are low power than less a half a watt of transmission power and have a yearly fee.

      406mhz PLB with GPS (which is a personal sized EPIRB) uses a 5W transmitter so it can reach the sats much more reliably. But you can’t send your coordinates or messages to loved ones. And the battery needs to be replaced every 5 years.

      If you are an adventurer that wants some two way communication the SPOT might be a good choice. If you are some that just needs the ability to can for EMS/SAR the PLB would be the best choice IMO.

  • Banana Xango

    I still don’t quite understand why external safeties are so derided when such a staggering amount of these ND’s are caused by not having one engaged.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      For starters, it was a .45 Long Colt, which means it was a revolver, and there are no safeties on revolvers since they are generally considered to be safe enough without them, which means this guy was doing something with it that negated any and possibly all safeties that could have been installed.

      Now if we are talking about semi-autos in good holsters that protect the trigger from being accidentally actuated, then there is no need for a safety. If you have no need for something that at best is unnoticed and at worst keeping you from saving your own life, I’ll choose to forgo it 10 times out of 10.

      P.S. I’ve also been flagged by people with 1911s who “have the safety on” way more than by people holding ‘safety-less’ guns. When you don’t give people a crutch, they tend to be much more cautious.

      • Twilight sparkle

        I’ve been flagged many times by ever type of pistol equally. It’s an educational issue for all gun owners that don’t know or don’t follow Jeff coopers rules

  • HH

    I’ve used the SPOT a fair amount in Utah wilderness on canyon exploration trips. While the signals in the canyons were expected to be bad what bothered me was that most of the “send” messages sent at various times didnt reach their recipient by email/text for many hours…as in 3-4 hrs- often times after we had arrived back at camp.

    I wasnt impressed but Im not sure any of the other tracker alert devices are any better.

    my 2 cents as an actual user.

    Glad it worked for the hunter though.

  • Reed Carruthers

    I have a spot and I love it. When I am hiking or hunting in remote areas, it is great for me to be able to send messages to my wife. It is nice for her to get a text from me and an email with my location. When I have buddies with me, I put their ladies on the notify list also and they appreciate that. I haven’t needed to use it for an emergency yet, but it is good to have for that also.

  • Tim

    We considered SPOT for Boy Scout trips since we regularly went way past cell phone coverage and were responsible for minors. Too expensive, coverage in canyons and reliability issues with batteries (Scouts are taught not to rely on cell phones a/o GPS) kept us away.

    ALSO, what happened to the guys horse??

    • Cottersay

      Thinking the same thing about the poor horse!

  • Rufus

    Had a SPOT, retired it and bought a Delorme InTouch which allows two way text or email capabilities. Just got back from a 10 day wilderness kayak trip. It was comforting to be able to communicate with my son back home on a daily basis. The wife and I are a very active over 60 pair, but stuff can happen. I’m sure when he saw that we were 50 miles into the sticks, he felt better because he could touching base with us. One morning he noticed on the InTouch web site that we were moving at 4 am and texted us on the device. Not to worry, we were moving early to avoid the afternoon wind.

    There are cool devices out there for the outdoorsman. The rescue capability is a small part of “the package”. The web based tracking and mapping capabilities are awesome!

  • Will

    “Rope wrapped around his .45 Long Colt pistol causing it to discharge”……RIIIIIGHT!!
    I don’t believe that for an instant. But, I wasn’t there soooo, I remain skeptical.