A Washington couple who planned a trip to a Skamania County cabin over the weekend had to be rescued after their rental vehicle became stuck in more than a foot of snow Sunday on a U.S. Forest Service Road.
The Skamania County Sheriff's Office received a report at 10:40 a.m. Monday about two overdue travelers who may have been driving through the area.
Family members told the sheriff's office that Heidi Tran, 26, of Lynwood, and Andy Nguyen, 28, of Seattle, had not returned from a trip from Seattle to Glenwood. The couple was initially reported missing to the Lake City Police Department, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.
They were traveling to a rental cabin in Glenwood and rented an SUV. They departed Sunday morning and never arrived, the sheriff's office said. The family was unable to contact them, became worried and then made the missing persons report.
A search-and-rescue coordinator with the sheriff's office determined their possible route with the help of the family — USFS 23 Road, leading from U.S. Highway 12 to the Trout Lake area. That's the route they would have gone if they were using assisted navigation on their cellphones. Other routes were checked through the day, but those searches were unsuccessful, according to the sheriff's office.
At the request of searchers, a neighboring sheriff's office flew an aircraft over the area of USFS 23, north of Trout Lake. The couple and their vehicle were spotted at Milepost 23, near Takhlakh Lake, at 5:03 p.m., according to deputies.
Two search-and-rescue deputies responded with an all-terrain vehicle, along with a team on a separate vehicle.
Tran and Nguyen were located and brought back to the Trout Lake area. They were uninjured and did not require medical attention.
"They had followed the directions found via computer or navigation, which led them from Highway 12 to the USFS 23 Road. The rental vehicle, a 2020 Toyota, became stuck in deep snow on Sunday afternoon," the sheriff's office said.
Eighteen inches of snow had accumulated on Sunday evening, making it impossible to dig out the rental vehicle, according to deputies. The couple reportedly rationed their fuel from the SUV to ensure they had heat from the vehicle to stay warm; they also rationed their food.
"While this incident resulted in the best-case scenario, some do not. Please do not rely solely on computerized navigation. If traveling on forest roads or areas that are not maintained during winter months, please consider changing your route," the sheriff's office said.
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