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Crook County SAR crews rescue seven motorists stranded in deep snow in past month, prompt safety reminders

Two of the three stranded-motorist rescues by Crook County Sheriff's Search and Rescue in recent days
Crook County Sheriff's SAR
Two of the three stranded-motorist rescues by Crook County Sheriff's Search and Rescue in recent days

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Three rescues of motorists stranded in deep snow in the woods east of Prineville since Saturday and seven since the start of the year prompted Crook County Sheriff's Search and Rescue to remind motorists Friday to take proper safety precautions, stick to and inform others of your travel plans and bring adequate supplies.

On Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, SAR responded to three incidents of motorists stranded in rural areas of the Ochoco National Forest, Deputy Andy Pearson said.   

On Saturday around 12:30 p.m., SAR members engaged in an active training exercise in the forest received word from Crook County 911 of a stranded motorist in the area of Big Summit Prairie on Forest Service Road 42, Pearson said. 

A SAR "hasty team" was dispatched to the area to assess the situation.  The stranded subjects were located and found stuck in heavy snow.  Some time after SAR members arrived in the area, the stranded subjects were able to dig out and free themselves without any additional assistance.  

On Monday evening around 6:15 p.m., SAR was notified of a stranded motorist in the area of the Walton Lake campground, Pearson said. The stranded motorist was able to communicate with emergency responders with the use of a satellite SOS device. 

The satellite device provided GPS coordinates as to the subject’s location. Three rescue vehicles, including a specialized tracked side-by-side, were deployed to the area.  The stranded subjects were located without incident and transported back to Prineville.

The stranded motorist was prepared for the elements, the deputy said, and had a reliable form of alternate communication when they were without cell service.  Due to the subjects' planning and preparation, their rescue was successful and without incident.

On Wednesday night around 8 p.m., the sheriff's office got a 9-1-1 call regarding stranded motorists.  Due to the weak signal, no GPS coordinates were readily available and no call back was possible, Pearson said. Utilizing 911 mapping software, a general location was obtained for the stranded subject. 

An eight-member SAR team responded to the call, using snowmobiles and a specialized tracked side-by-side near the area of Independent Mine.  The stranded subjects were located on a groomed snowmobile trail they had reportedly driven onto in error. 

After arriving, SAR discovered two vehicles were stuck at that location in heavy snow, with a total of five young adult occupants.  It was reported the first vehicle became stuck earlier in the day, and the second later in the afternoon after the second vehicle's occupants went looking for their missing friends. 

All five occupants were transported back to Prineville, where they were dropped off at their various homes.

Crook County Sheriff’s Office SAR Team has responded to seven search and rescue missions since the beginning of the year, Pearson said in a news release.. 

"Crook County Sheriff’s Office SAR would like to remind everyone, when you are traveling, especially in the mountains, to let someone know where you are going, when you will be back, and stick to your plan.  Take adequate food, water and warm clothing in case you get stuck, regardless of anticipated road conditions," he said.  

For more information about safety in the mountains, please go to:

Article Topic Follows: Crook County
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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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