Search and rescue has busy weekend

Photo by Brian CorleyMembers of the Douglas County Search and Rescue team look at their raft after Sunday's rescue effort. The members in an effort to get the teens that were missing.

Photo by Brian CorleyMembers of the Douglas County Search and Rescue team look at their raft after Sunday's rescue effort. The members in an effort to get the teens that were missing.

MINDEN -- Douglas County's all-volunteer Search and Rescue Team logged hundreds of hours this weekend searching for missing recreationalists.

From a Minden couple lost in the Sunrise Pass on Friday to two Carson City teens who were hours late returning from rafting the Carson River on Saturday, Shaun Thomas of Search and Rescue said the crew of 37 volunteers did what they do best -- mobilize and locate the stranded and injured.

"Our Search and Rescue for Douglas County has been taxed for the weekend with the incidents that we had. With 32.9 (cumulative) hours looking for the lost ATV and the 183 (cumulative) hours spent looking for the rafters the team had a very busy weekend," Thomas said on Sunday from the group's headquarters at the Douglas County Sheriff's Department in Minden.

At around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, once again, search teams were trying to locate the origin of a plane's emergency transmitting device.

It turned out to be an accidental activation, discovered only after a team was out searching the area surrounding the Minden-Tahoe Airport for about an hour.

David and Daisy Morgan, of Minden, discovered late Friday night just how useful Search and Rescue is when David, 62, on an all-terrain-vehicle ride on Sunrise Pass, went over an embankment and was injured.

"He had used his cell phone to call for his wife and when his wife went to search for him she became disoriented on the roads and got stuck in the sand," Thomas said.

"Not only did we have to locate him and transport him, we had to locate her and free her vehicle and get her back home," he said.

The task was accomplished in a little more than an hour.

David suffered neck injuries and face lacerations and was taken to Carson-Tahoe Hospital where he was treated and released.

"They were wonderful," said Daisy Morgan. "I don't think anyone would have found us if they hadn't. I was so happy to see them."

Daisy said she was surprised to learn volunteers manned the non-profit Search and Rescue program and relied on fund raisers to purchase new equipment.

"I can't believe that. It's amazing," she said.

Monaju Menteer of Carson City also learned this weekend the value of Search and Rescue.

Her son Chandler, 19, along with friend Dave Tippett, 19, were due back from a rafting trip down the Carson River at about 5:30 p.m.

When there was no sign of the two teens, Menteer called Douglas County Search and Rescue.

"I didn't want to jump the gun, but finally I called at a quarter to eight and by 8:30 (Search and Rescue) had everything together," she said.

Thomas said 24 Douglas County volunteers scoured the rivers banks, four of them taking to the water in a raft, to search for the duo.

"That doesn't include Alpine Search and Rescue and the helicopter from California Highway Patrol," Thomas said.

Menteer said the teens, who reappeared shortly before noon on Sunday, had decided against going further down the river on rafts that were deflating and they went onshore where they found a group of campers who fed them and gave them shelter for the night.

In the morning Chandler and Tippett were driven to the Alpine County Sheriff's Office by one of the campers.

"It was a big relief to us all. Search and Rescue in Douglas County and Alpine County were the best. I could not have asked for more," she said.

Douglas County's first Search and Rescue crew was put together in 1955.

Thomas said volunteers from all walks of life are driven by a desire to help and the "adrenaline rush."

"We enjoy what we do," he said.

In addition to search and rescue, the team also performs evidence searches for the Sheriff's Department.

Thomas said through publicity he hopes people will see what the lost did wrong and not make the same mistake.

"I believe the community can learn from these events," he said noting a lot of times, people don't tell someone exactly where they are going and are ill equipped for the journey. "Hopefully incidents like these can be a community lesson."

Menteer said the anguish from sleepless night she spent waiting for some word on her son was lessened only by the fact that she knew there were people there to help.

"You can't imagine what goes through your mind. If there's hell on earth, its not knowing where your child is," she said.

"They are very, very lucky they're OK. They could have been hurt, but if they had been I know with all of the people looking, we would have found them."


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