SAR volunteers rescue stranded motorist west of Bend

Redmond woman stayed with car, was cold but OK

BEND, Ore. - Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue volunteers found a stranded Redmond woman in her disabled car in the woods five miles west of Bend Tuesday morning, cold but otherwise OK after a night when temperatures plunged to near zero at higher elevations, authorities said.

About 7:30 p.m. Monday, the sheriff's office got a call from a Redmond woman, Rita Hall, who said her daughter, Jessica Hall, 21, had sent her a text message around 4 p.m. saying her car, a 1999 Ford Mustang, had broken down in an unknown, wooded location and she needed help, according to Lt. Bryan Husband, the sheriff's office's special services coordinator.

The text included an attempt to describe her location, and Hall's mother first tried to find her on her own, without success, at which time she contacted the sheriff's office. Husband said.

Jessica Hall's cellphone also died during the initial search period, so with temperatures expected to plunge to near zero, a search was immediately begun, Husband said.

Seven sheriff's deputies began searching for Hall in and around the Lava Butte/Benham Falls area, where she had had texted her mother she believed she was located, Husband said. Deputies also searched other possible locations, assisted by the U.S. Forest Service, Sunriver police and Bend police.

Hall's cellphone was pinged, but returned with a possible radius of over nine miles, Husband said. Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue began working with cellphone data to narrow the search area. 

As that was underway, deputies and officers continued searching through the night and early morning hours.

Once the location had been narrowed down a bit, around 4:15 a.m., 17 DCSO SAR volunteers were dispatched to search various areas, including Skyliner Road, the Cascade Lakes Highway, Forest Service Road 41 and the Lava Butte/Benham Falls area.

Around 7:15 a.m., SAR volunteers found Hall with her vehicle on a spur road, just north of the Cascade Lakes Highway and about five miles west of Bend, "cold but otherwise in good condition," Husband said in a news release.

Hall's car battery had died, as well as her cellphone, and she was staying bundled up in the car, in the hopes that someone would find her. Husband said she did not require medical attention and was given a ride to her mother's home.

"She definitely did the right thing by staying with her car," Husband said. "She unfortunately ran into the dead (car) battery issue well before dark, which led to her being stranded."

Husband said the sheriff's office wants to remind those venturing into less-traveled areas to tell someone where they are going and to carry basic survival gear with them.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are lost and have cell service, they recommend you call 911 before your cellphone battery dies, to help authorities determine a better location to start their search.

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