HAPPY CAMP, Calif. -- A husband and wife have earned the nickname "Angels of Grayback Mountain." They have rescued five people from the same road over the course of four months. One of those rescues was last week. Now, Dave Josephson is crediting them with saving his life when his GPS took him off the beaten path.
Sarah Dugan and Travis Davenport said they were driving up Indian Creek Road last Sunday when they saw Josephson walking down the hill.
"He said he'd been walking for over an hour," Dugan said.
Josephson was on his way back to Ashland after visiting his mom in the Bay Area.
"Ironically enough I was trying to avoid snow by going up the coast and then cutting inland," Josephson said.
Sarah and Travis said he was in very rough condition when they came across him.
"His lips were blue and chapped, they were cracked and bleeding, he could barely move his hands," Dugan said.
Josephson said his GPS told him to get off highway 96 and drive on Indian Creek road up and over Grayback Mountain.
A route Sarah and Travis say everyone in the area knows not to take this time of year.
"It doesn't look that bad at the bottom, but as soon as you start that hill, it's snow pretty quick," Dugan said.
Josephson said he was in a four-wheel drive rental car and tried to turn around once the road started becoming too rough, but his car got stuck. He said he left his dog in the car, started walking toward town and hoping he would see a car.
The couple said it's not the first time they've rescued someone from that road. Davenport said he was driving down it last October when he saw a car flipped upside down over an embankment. Inside, a man, a woman and two little kids.
"I ended up digging out the window to where they can get it open and she started instantly just handing out her children to me."
That family, like Josephson, said they were just following their GPS.
NewsWatch 12 asked the Forest Service if there any any warning signs for drivers.
Josh Veal, Public Affairs Officer for the Yreka office, said there is a sign that clearly marks the road is not maintained during the Winter.
"We work with Caltrans to put up signs. We have a rather robust outreach to warn folks about the conditions," Veal said.
He said anyone continuing on that road would have to pass the sign.
"We all have choices to make," Veal said.
He also said there is a gate about 12 miles past the junction of Highway 96 in Happy Camp, which he said the Forest Service closes when the road becomes impassable.
Veal said due to recent incidents, they will be sending a deputy to assess the road and close the gate as soon as they can get to it.
Dugan and Davenport said many people in the area travel up the road for Winter activities like snow-shoeing and sledding, but they realize how dangerous it gets at a certain point.
Now Josephson is thanking the Angels of Grayback Mountain for a safe return home.
"Honestly if it wasn't the people of Happy Camp helping me out big time here, I would either be worse case scenario dead, best case scenario a lot more miserable than I was," Josephson said.
(This story included team coverage from Emma Balkenbush and Eliana Sheriff)