Skip to comments.GPS strands couple in snow for days
Posted on 12/28/2009 10:17:16 PM PST by myknowledge
An American couple who relied on their SUV's navigation system to guide them through the high desert in the state of Oregon got stuck in snow for three days when the GPS unit sent them down a remote forest road.
On Sunday, atmospheric conditions apparently changed enough for their GPS-enabled mobile phone to get a weak signal and relay co-ordinates to a dispatcher, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger said.
"GPS almost did 'em in and GPS saved 'em," Evinger said.
"It will give you options to pick the shortest route. You certainly get the shortest route. But it may not be a safe route."
Evinger said the couple got stranded on Christmas Day and a sheriff's deputy found them in the Winema-Fremont National Forest outside the small town of Silver Lake on Sunday afternoon and pulled their four-wheel-drive Toyota Sequoia out of the snow with a winch.
John Rhoads, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhoads, 67, made it home safely to Reno, Nevada.
"It will be (a Christmas) we remember the rest of our lives," Starry Bush-Rhoads said in a telephone interview from her home.
"They said if they didn't find us 'til this time next spring, we wouldn't be happy."
The couple was well-equipped for winter travel, carrying food, water and warm clothes, the sheriff said.
"Their statement was, being prepared saved their life," he said.
The couple had been in Portland and followed their GPS as it directed them south on US Highway 97 to Oregon Highway 31, which goes through Silver Lake and Lakeview before connecting with US Highway 395 to Reno, Evinger said.
In the town of Silver Lake, the unit told them to turn right on Forest Service Road 28, and they followed that and some spur roads nearly 56 kilometres before getting stuck in about half a metre of snow near Thompson Reservoir, the sheriff said.
"For some reason, they finally got a weak signal after 2 1/2 days," Evinger said. "They called in. They alternated between two different cell phone numbers."
A GPS-enabled phone is able to send its co-ordinates to emergency dispatchers, and eventually one of the couple's phones sent its location to the dispatcher's console, the sheriff said.
GPS (Global Positioning System) can get you lost and can help you find your way home.
They should carry street directories as backup next time they go on a trip.
Letme see if I read this correctly.
they got instructions that were in fact the shortest route but not necessarily the safest route?
Oh wah wah wah, cry me a friggin river.
Let ‘em rot in their car, I don’t care.
I don’t care how much this stuff is hyped.
Having access to good, reliable maps is important and should always be used in addition to GPS, especially in rural areas.
They drove into and through a couple of feet of snow until it built up under their vehicle and lifted it enough for them to lose traction and get stuck.
That wasn’t the GPS’s fault.
these story are becoming more common. We rely on high tech but the high tech has hicups, so we resort to paper as backup
This past spring Mrs. Wasp and I were touring Huston, TX and programed the Johnson Space Center into our Tom Tom. We ended up in the far rear corner of a gigantic appartment complex parking lot!!!
My sis and I were testing hers driving from my house to hers. The thing kept saying ‘turn right’. Just before we got to the bottom of her driveway it said ‘turn right’. Problem was the driveway was left and ‘right’ was over an embankment. Stupid GPS.
Anyone remember that episode of the Office when Michael and Dwight drive into a lake because the GPS keeps telling them to turn?
"You Should Have Bought a Squirrel."
A map is good too.
Ah, the GPS, they were supposed to help avoid arguments, but that hasn’t worked out quite well. I’ve been trying to convince my husband t hat the GPS isn’t necessarily always 100% right.
Fastest my butt. Maybe shortest distance, but definitely not the fastest. Even in summer months with good driving conditions it would be faster to stay on 31 till it met up with 395 at Valley Falls then followed to Reno.
I’m surprised the forest service road wasn’t gated off. Many of them in that area of Oregon are during winter.
Forget GPS. Given a decent map, I can find anything on this green earth, no matter how remote, no problem.
Oh heh read it wrong, they were on shortest when they probably should have picked fastest.
Either way just staying on 31 and a good GPS would have auto-recalculated in a matter of seconds.
MapQuest would've helped these folks better....or a stop at the corner Gas Station. (GS).
And that’s another point I’ve tried to make, the shortest route is not necessarily the fastest way to get to where you’re going. Hubby once took the shortest route, but it was miles of street lights vs just staying on the freeway which would have gotten us to our destination faster.
Well, make sure the map is up to date.
My wife and I have had a couple of cross-country moves in the past few years, and we always do the Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency thing:
Alternate: Google Maps print outs
Contingency: old-fashioned map
Emergency: OnStar/AAA/ask for directions at gas station (implied task there—study some Spanish or Arabic)
A decent map IS up to date.
They didn’t have a paper map? Not cool. Acts a as a system for verification and backup should primary system go down.
The GPS didn’t indicate they were going onto a service road and it didn’t mean anything to them?
Next time try Magellan, Rodney Wrongway.(I actually prefer Garmin but your mileage may vary)
Took a road trip to Yakihma from the Bay Area a few years ago. Loved the GPS but confirmed the routes and points of interest on a physical map before taking off.
Carried the maps of three states with me just in case plus my 30 day pack, which has everything I need to survive or get home with two compasses and my handy dandy star map for North America.
People think they can go out in the winter on trips to rural areas in their all conquering 4x4 SUVs and be totally safe. They were better prepared than most but were very lucky they did not die.
GPS has it’s uses and they can be great, but you can’t turn off your brain.
Forget the street directories how about a little common friggin sense???? Do you not look at the road in front of you? Have these idiots NO sense of direction???? Hell this is inexcusable as far as I am concerned. If you rely that much on GPS to get places then you probably should not be behind the wheel of a lethal weapon ( cars after all kill people)
I often use GPS but I am no overreliant on it because I am aware of its shortcomings.
lawyer up 4sure
lol...its ppl who kills with cars just like guns~~~
but of course ;)
Too true but, they did.
Sure does smell like it
The GPS directions didn’t get them in trouble. They got in trouble when they drove into deep snow following the GPS? If the GPS told them to cross a washed out bridge in a flood would they have tried that, too.
like to see how long it would take you to pinpoint a small unmarked wreck 35 miles offshore in 300 feet of water with a map compared to me with a GPS
If staged, it’s based on a similar situation a couple of years back that resulted in a fatality. Could be where they got the idea.
Our Garman had us arriving at our destination on the left.
Which was the Hudson River.
Not so good!
What’s weird is that just staying on the 30 from Portland to 395 looks to be the most direct route. That 97 to 31 to the Forest Service Rd. is the long way around.
Well, at least you weren’t stranded in snow without food, water, or blankets!
I’ve had my gps, try to send me along some rail road tracks for the shortest route.
At our camp, it lists the electrical wire row’s as roads. Google maps does this also.
They got into trouble when they were born stupid, and...Yes...they would drive off a cliff if GPS told them too. They probably even talk back to the GPS like my idiot boss used to do!
Sounds staged for a lawsuit.
What’s with the claim, that atmospheric conditions changed enough to get their information to a dispacher?
Just look on the gps. It’s got latitude and longitude out to hours, minutes and seconds. If they were on the phone to a dispacher - they would only have to look and the gps would tell them (exactly) where they were.
“Gosh we have no idea where we are officer, somwhere it says in Oregon but we can’t be sure - please save us”.
You were not authorized to view that particular top secret portion of the space program. Come with me please...
That was so freekin funny! What movie was that?
There is a reason those package delivery guys carry a MAP/ROAD ATLAS with them when servicing rural areas...
Drove from BC to TX last September. I have a giant mapbook, paid 10 of your shiny yankee doodles. Never got lost once, driving through Montana, Wymoning, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.
Who needs GPS?!
That really sounds fishy.
Similar to the ‘kid in balloon’ incident.
When I’m planning a big trip (recently from WV to Chicago)to an unfamiliar area I track it on Google Earth just to get a sense of landmarks. Heck, you can even note that there’s a gas station at a turn.