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Snowmobiler missing since Sunday found safe at Seven Springs

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 12:26 p.m.
Bruce Maust, 50, of Somerset County, who had been missing for three days, was found Wednesday at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. He hadn’t been seen since 3 p.m. Sunday, when he left his Jennerstown home on a snowmobile, police said. He is being treated at Somerset Hospital. Credit: WPXI

Frantic Facebook posts asking for prayers for a lost snowmobile rider turned to praise and gratitude Wednesday afternoon when the Somerset County man was located alive on private property near Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

Bruce Maust, 50, of Jennerstown, had been missing for nearly three days after leaving his Somerset County home Sunday on a snowmobile. He was found standing against a tree Wednesday morning, police said.

“He is doing good; his vitals are good,” his sister Nicole Maust said from Somerset Hospital, where he was being treated Wednesday. “It's nice to be from a small town. I can't tell you how many friends came out (to support us).”

“He may have suffered from a medical condition that caused him to be disoriented,” said state police spokesman Trooper John Matchik.

Matchik said he is grateful that searchers were able to locate Maust before the weather turns cold and snowy.

“Thankfully, things worked out and we were able to look for him before the impending weather moves in,” he said. “We're fortunate it had a happy ending for him.”

It's not clear how long Maust had been in the wooded area, police said. A hospital spokesman declined to release his condition Wednesday.

State police initially believed Maust may have been in the Laurel Mountains west of Jennerstown.

During their investigation, police determined Maust's debit card had been used at an ATM at the resort Sunday afternoon. Surveillance video was used to confirm Maust had used the card, Matchik said.

State police, along with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Seven Springs resort security, an aerial crew and numerous volunteer fire departments began searching the area near the property for Maust on Tuesday. The search was put on hold that night and resumed Wednesday morning.

A ground search team found a snowmobile matching Maust's in a pond on a private part of the resort. Searchers concentrated on that area when they discovered fresh tracks and found Maust, Matchik said.

“He was standing up against a tree,” Matchik said. “He was wet and disoriented.”The snowmobile probably ended up in the pond because Maust was not familiar with the area, Matchik said. He crawled out of the pond and took refuge in the woods.

Maust likely used snow runoff to stay hydrated but had no food, Matchik said.

Maust was able to walk with the searchers to a nearby cabin, where paramedics treated him before taking him to Somerset Hospital.

Seven Springs security worked with police to navigate the resort's 5,500 acres.

“We worked with police to assist in whatever way possible,” resort spokeswoman Anna Weltz said. “He looked healthy. We're thankful he is OK.”

Early this week, family, friends and a Jennerstown prayer group began posting messages on Facebook that Maust was missing. The messages turned to appreciation for rescue teams when Maust was found.

“So relieved that my friend Bruce Maust was found by search and rescue after three days in the PA woods,” one man wrote.

Another said, “Thank you everyone for all prayers and thoughts for Bruce Maust. Bruce was found walking just a while ago, not sure of any details as yet. Thanks be to God.”

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or adolasinski@tribweb.com.

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