Stranded family rescued from Blue Mountains WA


A family that headed to the Blue Mountains to find a Christmas tree without checking weather became stranded in deep snow, Washington officials said.

Associated Press file

A family that ignored warnings of a coming snow storm and road closures to hunt for a Christmas tree ended up stranded in Washington’s Blue Mountains, authorities said.

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police news release dubbed the family the “Griswolds” in honor of the hapless family from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

The family set out for the mountains Dec. 10, despite forecasts of 18 inches of snow with winds up to 50 mph, the release said.

After ignoring a road closure sign, the family, which had no tire chains or winter clothing, became stranded in deep snow, rescuers said.

The family called the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office for help on the evening of Dec. 11, and the office asked Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police for help.

Police and volunteers on snowmobiles found five people and a large dog, plus another family member in a pickup truck who had become stranded while trying to reach them, the release said.

They shuttled the family out on snowmobiles in whiteout conditions in a two-and-a-half hour operation, police said.

The dog, who was carried out in an officer’s lap, “only peed on him once,” police reported.

“Both vehicles had to be left behind to hopefully be recovered at a later date, possibly next spring,” the release said.

The Facebook post by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police prompted an avalanche of comments, some mocking the family.

“If you want to be a fool, do it on your own….don’t risk your family, too,” one comment read.

“Rescued a bunch of fools that nature was trying to weed out of the gene pool,” read another comment.

But some posters chided police and other commenters for poking fun at the family.

“The post and the comments in response discourages future people in distress from calling for help – because every single person who’s ever needed SAR fights that embarrassment at admitting to needing help,” wrote one person.

Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.

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