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Snowmobilers Rescued In Northern Grant County

AUSTIN – Four stranded snowmobilers spent a chilly night without adequate food or water before being rescued last weekend from the Vinegar Hill area northwest of Austin Junction.

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said his office was alerted Saturday, Feb. 2, when the Baker County sheriff’s department received a call that the four had become stranded.

The initial information was that the four had become stuck in snow near the head of Granite Boulder Creek, but were fine and planned to spend the night out.

About midmorning Sunday, officials and other riders became concerned about the foursome’s whereabouts and the fact they had spent one night out in sub-freezing temperatures. Palmer’s office activated the search and rescue unit, and volunteers from the Grant County Snowballers snowmobile club joined in the efforts to locate the men.

Searchers determined that the four were uninjured but still stranded.

Palmer said the trouble apparently began when one rider rode off to Granite Boulder while the others continued on their ride on Vinegar Hill. When the first rider didn’t rejoin them, one of the three rode back to look for him. Those two became stranded and were unable to get back toward Vinegar.

A third rider went back to find the others and also became stranded. The fourth then followed and met the same fate.

Rescue workers on Sunday rode to within a short distance of the men and were able to direct them to start hiking up out of the creek drainage.

Other snowmobilers met them and took them on snowmobiles along Forest Road 2010 down to the Middle Fork John Day River, where family members awaited them.

The riders were identified as Dave Runnels, 37, of Hines; Glen Dobson Jr., 43, and Jake Yaryan, 20, both of Burns; and Brent Scott, 39, of Vale.

Palmer said that during the night, the four were able to build a warming fire. He said they were dehydrated but otherwise uninjured.

In addition to the local snowmobilers, the Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Oregon State Police, U.S. Forest Service, Blue Mountain Hospital Ambulance, and the Harney, Baker and Malheur sheriff’s offices.


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