Members of the Baker County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team brought to safety a Washington man who spent Sunday night, March 28 in his vehicle after he got stuck in the snow on an unmaintained Forest Service road in the southern part of the county.
Chase Lewine, 29, of Seattle, became stuck in the snow after deciding to take the scenic route over Road 16 while out for a drive Sunday, Ashley McClay, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, stated in a press release.
That road branches off from Highway 26 about nine miles east of Unity, and follows East Camp Creek into the mountains.
Lewine had traveled about five miles on the snowy road when his 2000 Toyota 4-Runner four-wheel drive became stuck, McClay said. She said Lewine had been driving on packed snow and got stuck while turning around to head back to Highway 26.
He then walked back to the highway and tried to flag down on a passing driver. Patricia Chapin, 61, of Unity, stopped to talk to Lewine. She drove to an area with cell service and called 9-1-1 about 7 p.m. to report Lewine’s situation, McClay said.
A short time later a Canyon City couple, Jessie Madden, 51, and Michael Madden, also met Lewine on Highway 26. The Maddens started driving up Road 16, making it about three miles and then deciding to walk the rest of the way to Lewine’s vehicle. Lewine also walked back to his stranded SUV.
But before the group was able to try to return to the highway, high winds from a strong cold front felled several trees, blocking the escape route for Lewine’s and the Maddens’ vehicles. One tree fell near the Maddens’ vehicle.
McClay said the Maddens walked back to the highway and called relatives who picked them up.
Lewine, meanwhile, chose to stay overnight with his vehice.
The Baker County Search and Rescue Team was activated at 7:55 a.m. Monday, March 30, led by Sgt. Eric Colton. McClay said team members used a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle to travel to the area. They cut through the downed tree and other debris with chain saws to reach Lewine’s vehicle.
“Despite the cold weather, Lewine was uninjured and appeared in good health,” McClay stated in the press release.
The Sheriff’s Department warns travelers to be prepared when heading out on Eastern Oregon roads this time of year. Despite rising temperatures, many unmaintained Forest Service and BLM roads remain impassable, McClay stated.