CEDAR CITY – A couple forced to sleep in their vehicle out in the wilderness Sunday night returned home safely the next morning after authorities found them by following their footprints.
The couple had traveled out into the desert Sunday approximately 11 miles east of Lund when they got their truck stuck in the snow. With no light or cell service, the couple decided to stay where they were until sunrise, Iron County Sheriff Lt. Del Schlosser said.
Monday morning, the couple left their vehicle to walk where they could get cell service and call 911. The phone went dead, however, before dispatch operators were able to get the couple’s GPS position.
“They told dispatch their approximate location but, before we could get the GPS on where they were located, the phone went dead,” Schlosser said.
Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the approximate location called in by the couple but were unable to immediately find them until they discovered some fresh footprints that led them to the couple, who, by then, had returned to their vehicle.
Schlosser said this incident is an example of what can happen “to anyone at any time.”
He warns it’s important if someone does get stuck somewhere in the winter, they find shelter or stay in their vehicle in order to avoid hypothermia.
“Always stay with your vehicle where you can stay warm and inside away from the outside elements that can bring on hypothermia such as wind, cold, etc.,” he said. “In this case, the couple did exactly what they should’ve done — they stayed in their vehicle until morning when it was safer to go get help.”
Whether it’s in the winter or the summer, he said, people also need to let others know where they’re going and when they expect to return.
“That way, if they don’t return by the set time friends and family know, it’s time to start looking and they know where to look,” he said.
Sheriff Mark Gower suggests taking a blanket, plenty of water and even some snacks before venturing out in the wilderness, as there is always a risk of something happening.
“If you end up getting stuck, it may be some time before someone can find you and you want to have a way to stay warm, plenty of water and something to snack on,” Gower said. “Even like granola bars or some nuts, just anything that will help to keep a person’s strength and energy up until help can get there.”
Printable / savable pdf: Vehicle Preparation and Safety Precautions for Winter Weather
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