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MOAB — An Oregon couple was stranded for nearly 24 hours on a secluded Grand County road before being rescued Friday evening, officials said, describing the area as a dangerous and frequent problem.
The couple and their dog were stuck in deep snow on the Castleton-Gateway Road, officials said, at an elevation of 8,400 feet. "Following directions on their Google Maps app," the sheriff's search and rescue team wrote on Facebook, "they drove their late model SUV up from Gateway and became stuck attempting to turn around when they realized the snow was too deep on the unmaintained and unplowed road."
A tow truck tried to reach them Friday, but also became stuck. A second tow truck was called to first retrieve the initial tow truck, then the couple's vehicle. Meanwhile, a Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team, assisted by a state park ranger, sent two snowmobiles and a tracked Polaris Ranger to pick up the couple and their dog.
They were about 5 miles from the Colorado border, officials said.
The search and rescue team described another rescue on the road that happened earlier this month, when a helicopter dispatched to the scene happened to find a second stranded party that hadn't been able to call for help. Cell phone service is virtually nonexistent on sections of the road, officials added, and said people getting stuck there has become a "chronic problem in the past few years."
"Drivers who are unaware of conditions on the unmaintained road and who are unprepared to spend a night in winter conditions are often directed to this road by navigation apps which indicate it is the route from the Unaweep Canyon area of Colorado to Moab," they wrote. "Even well-outfitted 4X4 vehicles have become stuck in deep snowdrifts along the road.
The search and rescue team said locals and tourists should check road conditions before traveling off the main roads. "Carry survival gear such as additional warm clothing, food, and water. A shovel and tire chains may come in handy. Satellite messaging devices which work in areas with no cell phone service have saved lives."