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Crook County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue rescues more stranded motorists, bringing year’s tally to 19 operations

Crook County Sheriff's Search and Rescue with tracked vehicle on rescue of stranded motorist earlier this winter
Crook County Sheriff's SAR/file
Crook County Sheriff's Search and Rescue with tracked vehicle on rescue of stranded motorist earlier this winter

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) – Crook County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue conducted two more recent rescues of motorists stranded in the snow, one a mother and her two children, bringing this year’s tally of such efforts to 19 and prompting another reminder Friday that “travel off well-plowed roads is not advised.”

In the first recent case, dispatchers were notified on Sunday, March 19 around 5:45 a.m. that three motorists had been stuck most of the night in the their vehicle in the snow in the Big Summit Prairie area east of Prineville, Deputy Andy Pearson said. It was an outgoing call only, so calling back was not possible, he said.

Mapping by 911 showed they were northeast of Summit Prairie Road. The motorists, who had warm clothing, were directed to stay with the vehicle.

Ten SAR members responded with four vehicles, the agency’s tracked side-by-side and snowmobiles, Pearson said. A SAR member at the command post helped maintain communications with the team through ham (amateur) radio and GPS tracking/messaging.

SAR members said the road was snow-covered and very icy, he said – in fact, a SAR vehicle got stuck and had to be freed. But SAR found the subjects and brought them out to safety.

In the second incident, just after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, dispatchers got a 911 call from another stranded motorist, who said she was with her two children and stuck on the Price-Twelve Mile Road near Van Lake Road, located north of Highway 20 and east of Brothers.

Pearson said the cellphone connection was poor and no calls were possible, but coordinates were obtained.

Crook County SAR responded to headquarters with 13 members, three of whom stayed to manage the command post, communicating with ham radios and GPS, Pearson said. The rest deployed with several vehicles and the tracked side-by-side.

The woman and children were located about 1 ½ miles down the Price-Twelve Mile Road, stuck in the snow. Pearson said, “The electric vehicle they were in was running low on charge, so they were using the heater sparingly and were chilled and damp from trying to dig the car out.”

The three were brought back to Prineville, where they stayed the night and would make arrangements to retrieve the vehicle in the morning.

These were the county's 18th and 19th such missions this year, Pearson said.

"We would to remind traveling folks to have a plan, communicate the plan and stick to the plan when traveling and especially when off main roads. Have enough food and warm clothing for an unplanned extended stay," he wrote. "Also, pay attention to the road conditions. If the road conditions start to deteriorate, turn around before you need to and make it safe good day for everyone."

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Barney Lerten

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