Missing snowboarders found – November 16, 2004

Missing snowboarders found

Herald and News

Klamath Falls, Oregon
November 16, 2004
By LEE JUILLERAT
CRATER LAKE – Three Klamath Falls snowboarders are safe and uninjured after spending Sunday night and early Monday lost in Crater Lake National Park’s snowy backcountry.

Coty Huard, 14, Donald Lucero, 16, and Justin Silva, 12, were found by searchers about 11 p.m. Sunday night after being reported missing six hours earlier by Lucero’s mother.
Early Monday morning the boys, accompanied by a trio of park rangers, snowshoed out and were reunited with their parents.

“For them to have survived a night would have been a very dangerous thing,” said Chief Ranger David Brennan, noting the trio did not have extra clothing or survival equipment and were unfamiliar with the area. “It’s a good feeling when you can have a success story instead of a tragedy.”

The three snowboarders were reported missing about 5 p.m., by Lucero’s mother, who had dropped them off that afternoon. The three were boarding near the Dutton Creek trailhead, a steep-sloped area adjacent to Rim Village popular with snowboarders. Brennan said the boys planned to ride toward the park headquarters area, but they descended the wrong drainage and became lost.

After traveling about two miles from their starting point and attempting to follow a backcountry ski trail and creek drainage, they stopped when it became dark. Expecting that searchers would be looking for them, they grouped together in an open area.

Soon after receiving the missing persons report, a trio of park rangers – Pete Reinhardt, Steve Thomas and Scott Girdner – began the initial search. With the help of Lucero’s mother, they were able to determine where the boys were last seen. Traveling on cross-country skis, the rangers quickly located and followed snowboard tracks.

Brennan said the rangers eventually made voice contact with the boys. After helping the missing boarders to warm up, the searchers and boys snowshoed another two miles to a park road, where they arrived about 2 a.m. Although they were cold and tired, Brennan said the boys were happy to be reunited with their parents.
Along with the trio of rangers on skis, the park also mobilized about 30 others, including search and support personnel from the National Park Service, Crater Lake Ski Patrol, Klamath County Search and Rescue and Chiloquin Volunteer Ambulance Service.
Plans were in place to launch extensive search efforts at first-light Monday, including a helicopter search, but those was canceled after the boys were found.

“We are extremely grateful that the three boys are alive and well,” Brennan said. “The fact that they stayed together and stopped traveling as darkness fell contributed to a successful outcome. The search was a great example of interagency cooperation.”

Brennan said the incident points out the need for winter backcountry travelers to “learn and follow basic safety and survival guidelines. These include letting friends or family know where you will be traveling, and carrying the survival essentials of extra clothing, food, water, flashlights, matches, map and compass.”
The boys had a cell phone, but there was no cell coverage in the area.

“Cell phones can be a valuable safety tool, but we urge people not to rely on them since coverage can be unpredictable in remote areas and battery life is unpredictable,” Brennan said.

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