A Heavy Snowfall: A Missing Person, An Overdue Party, Search & Rescue Efforts Ensue

(Downieville) This past Saturday, January 30, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received information about a man from the Tahoe area who left Grass Valley for Truckee along CA-49 the previous Sunday but had not been heard from since then.

With photos of the missing individual and his vehicle in their possession, the SCSO forwarded this information to all local law enforcement agencies, CalTrans, and the California Highway Patrol (CHP), asking them to be on the lookout for the man and his truck. However, despite the efforts of these groups, as well as family members checking CA-49 through Nevada, Yuba, and Sierra counties, these endeavors proved fruitless. 

However, on Sunday, January 31, one week after going missing, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from the missing person. Although the call was dropped, they confirmed it was from the missing person and obtained the caller’s GPS location, Henness Pass Road east of Alleghany in Sierra County. 

Since this area had received heavy snowfall over the past week and was not accessible by vehicle, the CHP’s Air Division dispatched a helicopter from the Sacramento area to assist, while the Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded with their snowcat. The helicopter crew, however, soon located the missing person, landed near him, and transported the man to SCSO officers just south of Downieville. Being in good health, he declined their offer of medical treatment. While speaking with the individual, the officers learned he had decided to travel via CA-49 to Truckee because Interstate 80 was closed due to snow. 

Unfortunately, being unfamiliar with the area, when his GPS indicated the shortest route to this destination was to leave CA- 49 and take the Henness Pass  Road, he followed the GPS directions. While traveling up this road, his vehicle became stuck in the snow and could not be turned around. 

Thankfully, the man was carrying adequate winter clothing, had a camper shell for protection, and propane for heat. Moreover, after a week of being stuck, he was able to find a location with limited cell service and make the 911 call. Yes, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office was thrilled with the situation’s outcome and they extend thanks to all those involved with the rescue, the California Highway Patrol, Nevada County Search and Rescue, along with the Alleghany and Downieville Volunteer Fire Departments. 

In conclusion, the SCSO suggests everyone to not always trust their GPS driving directions, particularly in the winter months. At about 3:00 AM on this past  Thursday morning, January 28, the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received news of two adults and a juvenile failing to return home to Grass Valley after leaving a friend’s house in Goodyear’s Bar around 7:00 PM the previous evening to play in the snow. 

Following up on this information the SCSO determined the missing individuals, along with a friend, left Goodyears in separate vehicles intending to travel up Mountain House road on their way back to civilization. The SCSO quickly confirmed fresh tire tracks in the snow on Mountain House road but the road’s conditions and heavy snowfall prevented the Sheriff’s deputies from following the tracks. 

Given the situation, the Sierra County Road Department, along with the Yuba County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team, was contacted for assistance. The road department attempted to plow the road, however, due to the amount of snow on the road, this effort was abandoned. 

Meanwhile, the Yuba County Search and Rescue arranged for Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team to use a snowcat located in Camptonville. Due to the amount of snow on the road, the road department could not continue plowing the road. 

While the snowcat was responding to assist, a California Highway Patrol Officer located one of the missing parties in the town of Forest City, a couple of miles north of Alleghany. During an interview with this person, the CHP learned the two parties had left Goodyears Bar and traveled south on Mountain House Road. But, the people with the juvenile had been unable to continue due to the road conditions and turned around on Mountain House in their attempt to return to Grass Valley the previous night.  Shortly after the snowcat arrived from Camptonville, the two adults and juvenile walked down Mountain House Road, where a deputy had staged. Fortunately, all three individuals, while very wet and cold, were in good health. 

Yes, the group’s vehicle, after turning around, had become stuck in the snow. However, after waiting in their auto until daybreak, the three had slogged their way down the road to safety So, once again, the SCSO reminds everyone to prepare for the worst when headed out into the snow, even if it is just a short day trip.  

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