BEND, OR -- A Bend family was rescued after getting stuck in the snow near East Lake.
At about 7:45 p.m., Sunday, 24-year-old Soren Smith called 911 to report he and three family members had cut down their Christmas tree on the 9710 road, and after about four hours in the back-country, he planned to take Forest Service Road 21 home. The Forest Service has closed the 21 road for the season, since it's not maintained in the winter. Smith told the dispatcher the truck was stuck in about a foot and a half of snow, and it was still snowing. But, they had plenty of gas, clothing and water, and were able to stay warm in the vehicle.
Deschutes County Search and Rescue deployed an ATV to the area (pictured, right), which reached the family just after midnight. The Deputy took the four people and their dog to his patrol pickup and then provided them with a courtesy transport home.
The Oregon Department of Transportation recently renewed warnings about relying on GPS units to navigate mountainous areas. ODOT's Tom Stranberg says GPS units don't know when roads are closed nor do they take snow into account. He says if the directions take you off main roads, assess the conditions, "It also might be a forest road or county road, or BLM road that’s not suitable for travel in all weather conditions." He adds, "If you find yourself on a road that just doesn’t seem like a main highway route, you might want to maybe stop and double check, verify where you’re at." There's no indication whether the Bend family rescued over the weekend was relying on GPS when they got stuck. More information on Deschutes National Forest service road closures are available HERE, and ODOT recommends visiting Tripcheck.com for highway conditions.