San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department

Press Release

DATE/TIME:Wednesday, January 6, 2016 12:30 a.m.

INCIDENT:Stranded Motorists Rescued After Extended Search LOCATION: Horse Springs Road/Forest Service Road 3N17


Shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 5, 2016, deputies of the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station responded to a call of stranded motorists in the forested area of Horse Springs Road and Forest Service Road 3N17 (Southeast of White Mountain peak). It was reported that three subjects in two Jeeps went off-roading in the mountains, entering the forest from the desert side of the ridge, and got stuck in unsafe conditions after it began snowing. The subjects had water with them, but no food, inadequate clothing, and were not prepared to be in the storm conditions for an extended period of time. The subjects had a general idea of their whereabouts but were not able to provide their exact location, and direct communication became difficult with poor cell phone service.


The terrain and accessible areas where the vehicles became stuck is extremely rocky and steep with icy conditions. Due to the heavy snowfall, visibility was only 50-100 feet. A team of two deputies conducted an area check in a four-wheel drive patrol unit and on foot where it was believed the subjects were stranded. Despite their efforts, the initial search team was not able to locate the subjects.   Members of Bear Valley Search & Rescue were called in and a command post was set up to assist with the search. Personnel and heavy equipment from the Fawnskin Fire Station were strategically staged. The location of the subjects was determined after one of the subjects texted a picture of their current location to a deputy. GPS coordinates were established using the properties of the picture.   Due to deteriorating conditions of weather and visibility, rescuers were not able to use vehicles and hiked several miles in rugged terrain to the subjects’ location. The search party located the subjects at approximately 12:30 this morning. The subjects were cold and hungry, but found to be in good condition with no medical issues.   Winter weather conditions in the mountains can change dramatically in a very short period of time. Make sure you are prepared with proper clothing, extra food and water, and a full charge on your cell phone battery. If you take medication, it’s a good idea to have an extra supply on hand. Don’t forget about provisions for your pets if they are traveling with you. And always carry chains in your vehicle and know how to put them on. Please enjoy winter activities in mountain communities safely!   Refer:Tiffany Swantek, PIO Station:Big Bear Sheriff’s Station Phone No.909-866-0100 Case No.061600014

John McMahon, Sheriff-Coroner

San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department

Sheriff’s Public Affairs Division

655 E. Third Street

San Bernardino, California 92415-0061

Telephone: (909) 387-3700