Seven people in three cars were rescued by a Deschutes County Search & Rescue crew on the Cascade Lakes Highway Sunday night. Authorities received a call around 10:00 p.m. from Eric Valentine stating he had gotten his vehicle stuck in the snow while trying to rescue his nephew who was also stuck in the snow.
Valentine reported his nephew, Brandon Dustin, had left Lapine around 5:00 pm and took the “back way” to Eugene. The nephew, Dustin had planned on taking US Highway 372 over to US Highway 58, using a shortcut to Eugene. After finding snowmobiles traveling the highway and getting advice from the riders that the highway was closed, Dustin attempted to turn around and became stuck in the snow. Valentine responded to help and also became stuck in the snow.
During this initial call, Valentine decided to call a friend with a tow truck and declined any Search and Rescue assistance. At He called 911 around 1:07 a.m. reporting his friend was also stuck in the snow, so here was now 3 total vehicles stuck and 7 people including one minor were stranded. Valentine requested Search and Rescue to recover the people on scene.
Using Valentines 911 call as a locating tool, Search and Rescue was able to confirm Valentine’s location was at milepost 53 US Highway 372. Valentine reported all three vehicles were within a few hundred yards of each other and all occupants were warm and safe inside the vehicles.
Two Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers and one Special Services Deputy responded to assist. Two SAR members travelled the majority of the way to the stuck subjects with a 4×4 pickup. They then deployed the tracked DCSO SAR ARGO ATV as well as a tracked Polaris Ranger ATV and located all subjects around 04:30 a.m.
All 7 subjects were provided a courtesy ride back to the intersection of FS Rd 42 and FS Rd 43 where they were reunited with their family. All DCSO resources returned to quarters by 07:00 a.m.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind those travelling during the winter to anticipate changes in the weather and varying snowpack conditions. It is also recommended if you’re travelling forest service roads this time of year they are generally not maintained so planning your route is suggested. Also, be sure to bring appropriate vehicles and equipment: including a shovel, lighting, clothing, blankets, food, water, navigation and communication devices to include a cell phone charger.