Large Snow Blowers Used To Remove 6 Feet Of Snow To Reach Stranded Motorist 

On Wednesday, February 27, 2019, at about 10:43 a.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a call from a female adult stating her Toyota Prius was stuck in deep snow in vicinity of Bunny Flat and she could not extricate herself from the predicament. Bunny Flat is a recreational area located at the foot of Mt. Shasta at the termination point of Everett Memorial Highway, a location located northeast of the City of Mt. Shasta. She reportedly ventured into the area from Everett Memorial Highway on Sunday but encountered heavy snow after recent storms and she needed assistance. The woman was identified as Ms. Lydia Briggs, a resident of Massachusetts. When Ms. Briggs was contacted via cell phone by SCSO’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Coordinator, Deputy Mike Burns. He was advised she was nearly out of food and she was melting snow to use as drinking water. Ms. Briggs further related she was intermittently running her vehicle to stay warm and had less than a quarter of tank of gas remaining in her fuel tank. Deep snow continued to fall and prevented her departure from the Bunny Flat area.

SCSO’s SAR team attempted to deploy a snowmobile and later, a “Sno-Cat” to Ms. Briggs’ location; however, due to the excessive amount of snow that had fallen in the area (about six feet) the snowmobile and Sno-Cat could not traverse the deep, snow-covered roadway and both vehicle operators and crews had to abort the mission.

SCSO’s SAR team requested assistance from Mr. Eric Freeman and his Mt. Shasta-based Siskiyou County Road Department crew, since the only way to reach the stranded tourist was to clear the deep snow from the roadway leading to the Bunny Flat parking area. Siskiyou County Road Department special equipment operators Mr. Garrett Richardson and Mr. Conner Ebel were assigned the mission of clearing the roadway by deploying large snow blowers on Everett Memorial Highway in an attempt to clear a path to the stranded motorist at Bunny Flat. The county road crew, made-up of Mr. Richardson and Mr. Ebel worked continuously under adverse conditions to clear the roadway. On Thursday, February 28 at about 10:30 a.m., the road crew reached Ms. Briggs and managed to guide her back down Everett Memorial Highway to safety.

According to Deputy Burns, “This is a good time to remind the public that although Bunny Flat is a very popular winter recreation area, the roadway leading to the attraction is susceptible to heavy snow fall and cannot always be plowed immediately after winter storms. Motorists are warned they should be aware of changing weather patterns and avoid roadways and recreational areas, especially those at higher elevations, prone to heavy snowfall, especially under storm watch conditions. Motorists should ensure if they travel on county or other public roadways during inclement weather or during the winter season, to have a vehicle capable of traversing snow-covered roadways.

Safety measures should include ensuring your vehicle has a full tank of gas, and all vehicles should be in good working condition and winterized. Motor vehicles driven in mountain areas should have tires with safe and legal tread deaths, preferably, those rated for mud and snow-type terrain. Vehicles should be fully operational and have functional windshield wipers. All vehicle operators should carry chains and if possible, a small shovel. If you choose to travel to Bunny flat or other mountain attractions during winter, be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions and avoid the area if possible, especially under storm or impending storm conditions. If traveling in mountain areas, ensure you have emergency supplies such as blankets, winter clothing, gloves, winter shoes and hats, and carry any medications needed in an emergency. Motorists should also carry a charged cell phone, flashlight, water, food, and ensure you bring emergency food for any animals you may take along on the trip. Travelers should not travel alone.

Always notify a close relative, neighbor, or friend when you plan to depart on your trip, what route you plan to take, where you are going, and when you plan to return home. Always leave a reliable person with a contact phone number. Many advanced technology-type locater devices are available for purchase or rent, such as Global Positions System (GPS) devices, SPOT Locators, Personal Locator Beacons, Satellite Messengers, and similar devices. Remember, a mountainous location may not provide cell phone service.

In short, traveling in mountainous areas takes preparation and proper planning to ensure if you are stranded for an extended period of time you will remain safe until rescued or until able to extricate yourself from an accident or weather-related predicament.”

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “We are grateful Ms. Briggs was rescued and she is now safe. We are very thankful for the SCSO’s SAR team, led by Deputy Burns, and the extraordinary efforts of the Siskiyou County Public Works’ Road Department Crew, whose hard-working and courageous equipment operators saved the day and ensured Ms. Briggs was rescued, despite the very challenging and hazardous environmental conditions they encountered during this critical mission.”