The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office received a desperate call from a Massachusetts woman whose Toyota Prius had become stuck in the snow near Bunny Flat on Mount Shasta. What should have been a routine rescue in a popular tourist area turned into a 24 hour road clearing operation.
Lydia Briggs had reached Bunny Flat on Sunday by driving up the Everitt Memorial Highway, but with the most recent storm dropping six feet of snow on the area, she was not able to return down the mountain. When she ran out of food and was forced to drink melting snow, she decided to phone the authorities at 10:43 am on Wednesday.
Upon receiving Briggs’s call, officials deployed a snowmobile and “snow cat” to attempt to extract her from the area, but the fresh snow proved too deep to reach the area. That’s when they asked a Mt. Shasta-based Siskiyou County Road Department crew to work around the clock to clear the road. It was the only option to remove Briggs from the area in a timely manner.
Garrett Richardson and Conner Ebel worked around the clock with large snowblowers to clear the highway, eventually reaching the trapped tourist at 10:30 am on Thursday.
“We are grateful Ms. Briggs was rescued and she is now safe,” said Sheriff Jon Lopey. “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.”
Although Bunny Flat remains a popular area for outdoor enthusiasts year-round, the Sheriff’s office took this opportunity to remind the public that weather can pose serious threats when visiting the area. Here are some safety tips from Siskiyou County Sheriff Deputy Mike Burns:
“Motor vehicles driven in mountain areas should have tires with safe and legal tread deaths, preferably, those rated for mud and snow-type terrain. 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.”
Here is another example of the dangers of the massive snowfall that Northern California has received this winter and the courageous efforts of rescue teams that work tirelessly to ensure outdoor enthusiasts safety.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine