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Students followed GPS, got stuck near Blondie Pass

Mar 19, 2013 Staff

Fremont County officials rescued four Northwest College students from the Blondie Pass area Sunday evening after the group became stranded.

According to reports, the students -- all men in their early 20s -- were returning to school in Powell from a trip in the Jackson and Dubois area. They reportedly were relying on a highway navigation device that told them to turn on the Maverick Springs Road and try to cross the Owl Creek Mountains via Blondie Pass.

They drove about 30 miles before becoming stuck in a large snow drift on top of the pass.

Even in good conditions, the route is arduous and little-used.

One of the students used a cell phone to call law enforcement at about 2:50 p.m. Sunday, and a deputy with two search and rescue volunteers reached the group around 5:30 p.m. No injuries were reported.

The vehicle technically was located just inside of Hot Springs County, but emergency responders from that jurisdiction were unable to reach the students.

Officials said similar incidents are not uncommon in Fremont County, where many roads are impassable for much of the year.

"Travelers decide to ignore road conditions or weather and attempt to follow the instructions (on their devices) despite the obvious hazards," Sheriff's Capt. Ryan Lee said in a press release.

Second person stuck

A second caller reported being stranded at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the Happy Springs area near Jeffrey City. According to reports, a Montana man and a man from Virginia called to say they were stuck in a snow drift. They provided coordinates for their location, but officials said the coordinates were wrong.

"The men were eventually located by a deputy ... about four miles off the Oil Springs Road, which is closer to the Sand Draw area," Lee said in a release. "The deputy had made contact with the men via cell phone, and they provided verbal direction to their actual location."

He said the men had been "out in the area looking around" when they became stuck about four miles down a two-track road. They were taken out of the area by 10 p.m.; no injuries were reported.

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