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Sheriff's Office rescues group stranded in snow between Gold Beach and Agness

The Curry County Sheriff's Office said that four men went up into the woods in the Wildhorse area when they became stuck in the snow overnight.

Posted: Feb 1, 2021 6:09 PM

GOLD BEACH, Ore. — Search & Rescue teams from the Curry County Sheriff's Office found and rescued a group of four men who became stranded out in the snow-covered woods roughly between Gold Beach and Agness last week.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 27, the Sheriff's Office said it received a report from a Brookings couple that their two sons and two other men had gone up to the woods in the Wildhorse area and hadn't returned. They were reportedly driving a red pickup truck.

30-year-old Sean Farris, 28-year-old Aaron Farris, 29-year-old Shawn Miller, and 21-year-old Bjorn Schaller had planned to go make a camp fire and cook together. When they did not return by midnight, and with increasingly bad weather, the parents became concerned. The father went up to find them himself, but got stuck in the snow before he could reach the area.

By 4 a.m. on Wednesday, deputies and SAR members had responded, only to find that the winter storm had dumped heavy snow on the hills, making travel difficult. The team used an ATV side-by-side with snow tracks to keep going higher into the hills.

SAR members found the red pickup stuck in the snow on the Wildhorse Road at around 10 a.m. Sean and Arron Farris had stayed with the truck overnight, while Schaller and Miller had left an hour earlier in an attempt to hike out.

Deputies took Aaron and Sean back to lower elevations, where their father was able to pick them up. But the search teams struggled to follow Schaller and Miller in the ATV amid the increasingly deep snow.

"Calls were made to Josephine and Jackson counties for the use of a Sno Cat but they were unavailable," the Sheriff's Office said. "Sheriff Ward contacted the Tucker Sno Cat Company from Medford and they agreed to send a Sno Cat over to help in the search."

At roughly 2 p.m., deputies and SAR members found Schaller and Miller walking in deep snow, a few miles from where they had left the pickup truck that morning. SAR members cut several trees out of the roadway so that vehicles could reach them — finally taking the pair about ten miles down from the snowy hills to the intersection of the Agness and Wildhorse roads.

"Schaller and Miller were both wet and cold and according to medics they were showing signs of hypothermia. They refused medical service and were given a ride by friends out of the area," the Sheriff's Office said.

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