Rescue operation riddled with mishaps including falling tree, burning car
A rescue operation at Shaver Lake during a fierce winter storm turned into an all-day saga for a stranded couple and group of deputies
By Carmen George
The Fresno Bee
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. — A rescue operation at Shaver Lake during a fierce winter storm turned into an all-day saga for a stranded couple and group of deputies with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office who were looking for them.
Deputies were dispatched around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to help the husband and wife, whose SUV was reportedly stuck in mud and blocked by a downed tree on Old Railroad Grade Road, sheriff’s office spokesman Tony Botti reported Thursday.
“Also, as the woman had stepped out of her vehicle, another tree fell, struck her head and caused a gash,” Botti said. “Shortly thereafter, the SUV somehow caught on fire. The woman and her husband got a safe distance away and huddled together to try and stay warm.”
Two deputies used chainsaws to cut through numerous trees blocking roadways to get to the couple, and then to get them to safety. Heavy rain and winds in the area toppled the trees.
“With rain pouring down and the wind howling, two deputies teamed up to cut the tree, while the other two deputies moved the pieces out of the way,” Botti said. “Meanwhile, they could hear more trees snapping in the distance. During their trek down the road, the deputies encountered a dozen more trees in the road, which required sawing and moving before they could continue on. To make matters worse, one of the deputies got a flat tire, so he left that vehicle behind and got a ride with another deputy.”
The four deputies reached the stranded couple around midnight, and while driving them to safety, had to stop to cut and move about six more fallen trees.
Deputies eventually met with paramedics who transported the couple, who were not named, to the hospital in an ambulance. The woman received stitches and “both are now doing well,” Botti said.
The deputies, “although muddy and soaking wet,” were uninjured and traveled back up the mountain to change out the flat tire on one of their vehicles. The entire operation took seven hours to complete.
Copyright 2019 The Fresno Bee