Released by: Deputy Donny Patterson, Assistant Search and Rescue Coordinator

Released Date: 02/20/2023

Location: China Hat / Milepost 29

Persons Assisted:

49 year old male, Bend, OR

52 year old male, Bend, OR

32 year old male, Sunriver, OR

36 year old male, Bend, OR

34 year old female, Bend, OR

38 year old female, Bend, OR


On 02/19/2023 at approximately 8:36 p.m., the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding two overdue subjects who were attempting to pull a stuck vehicle out of the snow on China Hat Rd. near milepost 28.  The caller reported that his brother and his brother’s friend left on 02/18/23 at about 2:00 p.m., to attempt to pull out his friend’s vehicle. The caller also reported he had not heard back from his brother for approximately 24 hours.  The caller suspected his brother and friend had been stuck overnight attempting to dig out.  The caller was concerned that they needed rescue as there is no cell service in the area, and they had yet to return to their residences.

A Special Services Deputy assigned to Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue made initial phone contact with the caller and gathered additional information regarding the overdue subjects’ names, vehicle descriptions, and location.  Several calls and texts messages were sent to the overdue subjects with no response.  A cell phone ping was conducted that provided general location the phone was last used, consistent with the caller’s description of their location.  A page was sent out to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers and two volunteers responded to the page.  At approximately 10:00 p.m., the SAR team left the SAR team office headed to the location towing a snow tracked vehicle called an ARGO.

As the SAR team headed to the location in search of the overdue subject, a second call was received by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch.  The second caller reported that he had not heard from his two friends who drove out to China Hat Rd. near milepost 29 to recover his stuck vehicle.  This second call for overdue subjects in the same area was unrelated to the initial call, thus it was suspected that there were at least 4 vehicles with two separate groups stuck in the area within a mile of each other.  This information regarding a potential additional rescue was relayed to the SAR team, though due to a limited radio and phone service in the area it was not received.

The SAR team deployed in the tracked vehicle on China Hat Rd. near milepost 24 and made their way through the 3′ ruts in the icy snow towards this location.  At approximately 11:15 p.m., the SAR team reported that they had located a total of 6 subjects, and 4 vehicles stuck in the snow (high centered on ice) that were stranded and in need of rescue.  All 6 stranded motorist were reported to be uninjured and did not need medical assistance.

The SAR team then began to shuttle the subjects back out of the location.  A Deputy responded to the location to assist with transportation of the 6 subjects.  As the subjects were brought out to the staging area, the Deputy transported two of the subjects (the originally overdue subjects) where they were met by friends and transported to Bend.  The remaining 4 subjects were provided with a ride by the Deputy to an address in Bend.

After rescuing all the stranded motorist out of the area, the SAR team returned to the SAR team office completing this rescue mission at 2:45 a.m. (02/20/23).

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is a full service agency that oversees the adult jail, provides patrol, criminal investigations, civil process and search and rescue operations. Special units include SWAT, Marine Patrol, ATV Patrol, Forest Patrol, along with five K9 teams. Founded in 1916 and today led by your duly elected Sheriff L. Shane Nelson, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office serves over 200,000 residents in Deschutes County. The agency has 259 authorized and funded personnel, which includes 191 sworn employees who provide services to the 3,055 square miles of Deschutes County.