Deschutes County

Lost horseback riders in Badlands rescued

Became disoriented as sun set, called for help

BEND, Ore. - A group of horseback riders became lost in the Badlands Wilderness Area east of Bend Thursday evening and called for help – and that cellphone helped bring rescuers to the scene, officials said.

Deschutes County 911 dispatchers took a call around 5:30 p.m. from Michelle Jones, 45, seeking help, said sheriff's Sgt. Ronny Dozier, Search and Rescue manager.

Jones told dispatchers she and her adult daughters and a friend had become lost during a ride in the Badlands, did not have any lights and it was getting dark. Dozier said the riders had set out about 12:30 p.m., and not having a map of the area had become disoriented.

The riders stayed in place – as those who are lost are always urged to do – built a fire and waited for rescuers to arrive, Dozier said.

The cellphone was "pinged" to determine the riders' approximate location, he said. Around 6 p.m., a sheriff's deputy and a four-member SAR team was dispatched with lights and blankets for the riders.

 After locating them, they escorted the riders to the nearest trailhead, the Dry River Trailhead near Alfalfa, Dozer said. Once there, one rider was taken back to her vehicle and horse trailer, located at the Badlands Rock Trail Trailhead, then escorted back to the other trailhead.

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