GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Two travelers are safe after a search and rescue operation in Josephine County. The incident occurred about three miles up Shan Creek Road, east of Grants Pass.
According to the Josephine County Sheriff's Office (JoCSO), a towing company notified them around 11 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, that there was a man and woman stranded in the Shan Creek area. The tow company said that they could not reach the couple due to heavy snow and unsafe road conditions.
The towing company said that the couple had driven over an embankment and the woman was showing signs of hypothermia. With that information, the JoCSO Search and Rescue division was brought in.
A deputy and a Search and Rescue volunteer arrived near Shan Creek and began preparing a tracked rescue vehicle to travel up the snowbound Shan Creek Road. As they were still preparing, a man came running down the road and flagged down the rescuers.
The man said that his vehicle had gone over a cliff up Shan Creek Road, and he and the woman began descending the road on foot. However, the woman had slipped and fallen down another embankment, and the man was unable to reach her.
JoCSO rescuers loaded the man into the snow vehicle and proceeded up Shan Creek Road, into the hills. They found the woman about three miles up the road, and 50-100 feet over a steep embankment, in a snow drift. The rescuers found the woman to be conscious and breathing, but she did not communicate.
The man said that the woman must have been in the snow at the bottom of the embankment for three hours. Neither he nor the woman were dressed for the frigid conditions, according to JoCSO.
Rescuers were able to improvise the means to traverse the embankment, and one of them was lowered down to assist the woman. Unfortunately, she was too weak and hypthermic to assist in the rescue.
The woman was at last pulled up the embankment, and she was then loaded into the snow rescue vehicle. American Medical Response met rescuers at the intersection of Shan Creek and Riverbanks roads to attend to provide medical attention to the woman. She was transported to Three Rivers Medical Center for further evaluation.
In a statement regarding the incident, JoCSO reminded the public to travel cautiously during winter conditions, and be prepared with proper clothing and equipment in case of emergency.