Released by:          Deputy Jim Whitcomb Assistant SAR Coordinator

Occurred:               Sunday, 12/0918, at 2010 hours

Location:                2.5 miles East of East Lake

Stuck Motorists:           Smith, Soren 24 yom Bend, OR

                                    Bissada-Smith, 54 yof Bend, OR

                                   17 and 13 year old juveniles, Bend, OR




On 12/09/2018, at about 2010 hours, Deschutes County 911 received a call from a stuck motorist, who reported he and his family were stuck in the snow near East Lake. The reporting person and operator of the vehicle, Soren Smith, advised he and three family members to include two juveniles had gone to the area to cut a Christmas tree and had gotten stuck in their 4×4 pickup. Smith’s intention was to drive on FS road 21 past East Lake to go home after finding their Christmas tree earlier on the 9710 road. Smith advised they left home at about 1530 hours and become stuck at about 1945 hours. Smith believed they would be able to stay warm since the vehicle had a half tank of gas and they were dressed for the weather, had water with them, but no extra food. The snow depth was reported to be about a foot and a half and it was currently snowing. The family had not brought shovels or any other implement to assist them after becoming stuck in the snow.


A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Deputy responded to the area with a patrol pickup towing a trailer with a tracked ATV. The Deputy trailered the tracked ATV as far as possible at which point the ATV was deployed. The Deputy then traveled in the tracked ATV the remaining distance of about 4 miles before arriving at Smith’s vehicle at about 0015 hours the next morning.  Smith’s vehicle was located about 2.5 miles east of East Lake and Smith advised it had snowed about 3 more inches since he had become stuck. The family members and their dog were transported in the ranger back to the patrol pickup and then were provided a curtesy transport to their residence.


The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind those traveling in the backcountry that several Forest Service roads are closed during the winter season. If you are planning on traveling on backcountry roads that may have snow on them (no matter the depth) it is recommended to possess traction tires and/or tire chaines, shovels and/or other implements to help free you if you become stuck as well as the 10 Essentials for wilderness survival in case you are forced to spend the night in your vehicle.  Please refer to the following weblinks for up to date road closures:


“The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is a full service organization providing patrol, criminal investigations, corrections, civil and search and rescue. Special operations include Marine Patrol, ATV Patrol, Forest Patrol, along with four K9 units. Founded in 1916 and today directed by Sheriff L. Shane Nelson, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office serves the more than 185,000 residents in Deschutes County. The agency has 230 authorized and funded personnel, which includes 180 sworn employees who provide services to the 3,055 square miles of Deschutes County.”