Tuesday, October 3, 2023

This Morning, Search Crews in Northern Mendocino County to Look for Multiple Residents Stuck in the Snow

Footprints in the snow [All Photographs from Virgil Scigla taken towards the top of Bell Springs Road]

Two Laytonville women are unaccounted for on Spy Rock Road, a rural route in Mendocino’s North County currently socked in under 4′-6′ of snow. Authorities are in contact with the women. They also are going to help other parties seeking rescue after being stuck in Mendocino County’s higher elevations for 10+ days.

The rescue mission is set to begin this morning despite bitterly cold temperatures and dangerous conditions.

A Laytonville local named Chelsea Dryden told us Lisa Herbstritt and her daughter Tabitha attempted to ascend Spy Rock Road Friday, March 3, 2023, to bring Lisa’s mother to the valley floor from the hills above. 

They were not heard from until last night when Lisa was able to text a friend. She reported her vehicle was stuck in the snow near Registered Guest Road towards the top of Spy Rock. At that time she was unaware of her daughter Tabitha’s location.

A landscape blanketed in white towards the top of Bell Springs Road

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Captain Greg Van Patten confirmed deputies had attempted to access Spy Rock Road for several hours yesterday afternoon searching for the stranded motorist. The rescuers were “unsuccessful because of the deep snow and icy conditions.” These conditions proved “very difficult even for our personnel and snow-capable equipment.” 

Deputies estimated the “snow on the road to be 4’-6’ feet deep where they could no longer travel” yesterday afternoon.

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Captain Van Patten told us, “The motorist indicated they could survive the night because we are needing a coordinated effort with County Department of Transportation machinery to help us.”

This morning, assisted by DOT equipment, deputies and Search and Rescue volunteers will attempt several missions on both Spy Rock and Bell Springs using MCSO’s SnowCat and MendoSAR’s UTV equipped with tracks for navigating snow. 

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  1. ❄️♥️❄️
    Praying your mission goes well today! And that all are recovered. May God surround you with Holy Angels and help from on high. In Jesus name. Amen!

  2. I hope everyone stuck is alive & healthy! This should be a wake up call for preparedness! Forethought not hindsight. I dont understand how a person can see weather reports & not stock up for an extended period of time! Especially for off grid, higher elevation, rural homesteads, you must have multiple weeks worth of what you need. Hope for the best & prepare for the worst! Always! Best wishes & luck to those going up to help those people whom are stuck.

  3. We have 6 feet of snow for 3 miles up to the county portion of Spyrock Rd. We are at the end of the road in Burns Creek. There are 8 properties between us and the county road and it is impassable. We have a child that can’t get to school and we can’t get out to go to work or get supplies. When is someone going to PLOW THE ROAD so we can get out? It is beyond what we can do. We tried to dig out with a shovel last Friday, but it was too much. We are OK right now, but we will be in a dire situation soon and I have no idea about the neighbors. There is too much snow to check on anyone. Why has the county of Mendocino ignored us for 2 weeks? We were fully stocked in food and fuel, but we really thought we could get out last Friday to resupply. Now we are going into our 3rd week and gas is running low. We have a wood stove for heat and cooking if need be, but our son has missed weeks of school and he can’t do homework because we have to conserve our gas and we can’t get to our jobs.

    • The nieghborhood I lived in which was vulnerable to similar circumstances had a snow plow that we took turns running when it began to snow. You can’t really plow 6 feet of snow. It has to be regularly plowed before it gets more than a foot or so deep. You are going to need to sled, snowshoe or ski out of there, be rescued, or possibly figure out a way to survive until the melt. A warm tropical storm is on track to arrive next week. Maybe with some luck the snow will melt then. But maybe not.
      If a warm rain does hit we are going to see flooding in the low lands like never before when we combine rain & snow melt.

  4. I would like to know why the Governor declared a State of Emergency for multiple SoCal counties yet left out Mendo and Humboldt.
    What do the Supes have to say? Our State Rep?

  5. Do the sheriffs not have snow shoes? I snowshoed in a back pack of emergency food to my friend up there a few days ago. Its amazing what you can do if you have snow shoes, dedicate a day & aren’t lazy. It took me 4 hours to get up the mountain & 3 to decend it but it wasnt that difficult with the right equipment. I will say the snow is very very deep there that day & I’m sure its much worse now.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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