On January 8, 2019 at approximately 5:00pm, the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a stranded motorist on the USFS 23 Road, 10 miles northwest of Trout Lake, Washington. The caller, Maria E. Becerra, 30, of Puyallup, Washington called the Sheriff’s Office and indicated she’d become stuck in the snow and requested assistance.
Our office contacted local area tow company’s and they were either not available or unwilling to respond. Due to a language barrier with Becerra, the inclement weather, and not knowing how much fuel and/or supplies she had our office dispatched a Deputy to respond.
Becerra was located on the USFS 23 road in the location she described. She told the Deputy she’d been driving home from Bend, Oregon using her phone to navigate her way back to Puyallup. She continued driving her 2009 Cadillac Escalade into the snow until the vehicle became stuck. When asked if she considered backing out when the snow deepened and there were no other tracks continuing north, she said she did not. Her vehicle, while 4WD, was not equipped with traction tires or chains.
Becerra was transported to White Salmon where she was taken to a warming shelter in Hood River, Oregon.
The Sheriff’s Office urges drivers not familiar with the area or changing road/weather conditions to not rely on their portable navigation and to consider alternate routes before proceeding. This incident could have resulted in a tragedy had it not been for the driver’s ability to receive a (weak but effective) cellular phone signal.