Crime - Sacto 911

CHP helicopter crew finds motorist stranded in rural Nevada County

A CHP helicopter crew guided search and rescues teams to a vehicle stuck in the snow in rural Nevada County.
A CHP helicopter crew guided search and rescues teams to a vehicle stuck in the snow in rural Nevada County. Photo from video provided by California Highway Patrol

A California Highway Patrol helicopter crew found a motorist who became stuck in snow in rural Nevada County on Monday afternoon and was unsure of her location.

The CHP’s Helicopter 20 responded about 4:30 p.m. after a 21-year-old woman driving a pickup became stuck. She was with two friends and had minimal cell phone service. With the light waning, they were not prepared to stay overnight in the wilderness, especially with extreme cold temperatures, according to a CHP news release. The woman was able to make marginal cell contact with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center. The Sheriff’s Office sent a full search and rescue team to the area and requested the helicopter search to pinpoint the area where the truck was stranded.

The woman told the dispatcher that she recalled driving through the town of Washington and later saw a sign for Bowman Lake.

The helicopter crew began a grid search in that area, but there were several different roads where the truck could be. The dense forest and snow about 2 feet deep made the search difficult, CHP officials said.

After several calls, the woman reported hearing a helicopter minutes earlier. The helicopter crew reversed its fight path and eventually found the truck on Gaston Road. Finding no suitable place to land, the crew relayed the position to rescue personnel on the ground, who reached the truck some time later. When rescuers arrived at the site, they learned that a male had walked away from the pickup. He was later found safe near the town of Washington.

The CHP’s Valley Division Air Operations on Tuesday released video of the aerial search.

With cold winter weather, lower snow levels and the increasing number of storms, CHP officials say it is essential that travelers prepare for the unexpected, noting that even a four-wheel-drive vehicle can become stuck or break down. Motorists are advised to have blankets, extra food, water and a cell phone charger. CHP officials also note that a bag of cat litter poured around tires can aid in traction. They also urge traveler to make sure someone knows their itinerary, so help can be requested if they don’t return when expected.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy