Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Monday, Jan. 9 @ 9:52 a.m. / Oregon, Traffic, Weather

Josephine County SAR Rescue Motorists Led Astray By Google Maps in a Remote Corner of Del Norte

Josephine County SAR volunteers ventured into Del Norte to rescue a pair of motorists who were stuck in the snow. | Photo courtesy of the Josephine County Sheriff's Office

Josephine County Search & Rescue rescued two motorists who spent the night stuck in the snow on Happy Camp Road on Thursday.

The subjects were traveling to see the redwoods, but due to a closure on U.S. 101 Google Maps directed them to the remote mountain road, according to a Josephine County Sheriff’s Office news release. After receiving a call from dispatch at about 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, emergency officials initially believed the subjects were in Siskiyou County.

However, at about 2:58 a.m. Thursday, Josephine County Search & Rescue realized they were in a remote corner of Del Norte County.

“From my understanding they were only about 100 feet in California in Del Norte County,” Del Norte County Sheriff Garrett Scott told the Outpost on Monday. “We got a hold of (Josephine) County and Siskiyou County and they worked together to send a team up there and get them out of the snow. Access routes were all on the Siskiyou County side and Josephine side.”

The subjects were on the phone with dispatch during the night, Scott said, and were able to keep warm with blankets.

During daylight hours Thursday, Josephine County Search & Rescue headed into the area with a SnoCat and tracked UTV and found the subjects in good health and spirits. They were brought to safety without incident, according to the Josephine County news release.

This isn’t the first time Google Maps led motorists astray when one of the major highways in the area was closed. In 2021 after a slide at Last Chance Grade shut U.S. 101 down in February, emergency personnel dug at least 20 cars out of the snow on the Gasquet-Orleans and Red Mountain roads.

Hundreds of motorists tried to get around the slide by taking the forest service roads despite snow, locked gates and signs telling them the road was closed, then-California Highway Patrol commander, Lt. Larry Depee told the Outpost.

On Monday, Scott pointed out that people will often travel up the Gasquet-Orleans Road only to be stopped by snow or where the road dead ends roughly 28 miles up from Big Flat Road.

“If you’re not familiar with the area, I always tell people to stop at a gas station and ask if you’re going to take an alternate route that you’re really not sure about,” he said. “Especially on the 199 corridor and 101, there are a few service stations and people are helpful.”


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