Our Northwest

GPS leads motorists up ‘sketchy road,’ into snowbank

Thursday, November 20, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Another winter, another story about Oregon motorists being led astray and stranded in the snow.
   Eight years ago, a family on I-5 bound for Gold Beach missed the State Route 42 exit for the Oregon coast. Their map appeared to show that a good road led from Merlin over the Klamath Mountains to Gold Beach. They took it – Bear Camp Road, often treacherous in winter – got stranded in snow for days, and the husband died of exposure while hiking out for help.
   In 2009 we blogged about a Nevada couple that got stuck Christmas Day in nearly two feet of snow on a remote Forest Service road in south central Oregon. Led astray by their car's GPS unit, they got a weak cell phone signal after three days, called for help, and eventually made it home safely to Reno.
   On Monday, four men got their Chevy Tahoe stuck in snow in the Cascades near Detroit, Ore., after their GPS led them 45 miles in the wrong direction. They hunkered down overnight, hiked to where they got a cell signal, and phoned for help.
   The lesson: Always carry food, water, warm clothing, and blankets during winter travel. When following GPS directions, consider whether or not your unit is accounting for seasonal weather.

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