Casey Ryan and his companion were stranded on a snowy mountain pass in Oregon, with no cell coverage, after their pickup truck got stuck.
We have all seen movies where people get stuck in snowstorms or in forests and navigate their way out with various methods. However, such situations are only fun on-screen and are extremely scary when you have to actually go through them. A photographer faced a similar situation when he got stranded while trying to rescue another stranded vehicle on a remote mountain road in Oregon.
Casey Ryan, who is familiar with the roads due to his garbage cleanup volunteer work, came across a stranded woman in a black Mercedes van while traveling with a friend, per The Washington Post. He attempted to help pull her van out with his pickup truck but ended up getting stuck in a snowdrift with the woman and his friend after reversing into it. He realized the only way they could survive was to somehow send for help. They decided that they have to come up with a unique way to do this despite having no cell reception.
When his truck got stuck on a mountain road in Oregon, Casey Ryan wrapped his iPhone in a paper towel and tied it to a drone, hoping it would pick up reception so he could send an SOS text. https://t.co/wt3Q98avqO— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 13, 2023
Ryan and his friend came up with an incredible plan that is completely innovative and ingenious. Their goal was to get enough reception in their phones to send an SOS text to Ryan's wife. Ryan wrapped his iPhone in a paper towel and used duct tape and some cord to tie it to a small camera drone he’d brought with him. Then he flew the drone, with his phone dangling on the cord underneath, up above the trees, where he hoped it would pick up reception. However crazy the idea sounds, it worked and they were able to send that text.
While Ryan's wife was out of the country, he requested her to contact AAA to tow the two stranded vehicles. As it was late in the evening, Ryan decided not to call 911 initially as he believed that their situation wasn't urgent enough to occupy emergency services. However, when help didn't arrive right away, the three travelers had to spend the night sleeping in their vehicles.
The following morning, Ryan used his drone and iPhone to communicate with his wife and learned that AAA does not service the mountain road during snowy conditions. Ryan's wife contacted the Lane County Sheriff's Office, which initiated a rescue mission. However, during their communication, Ryan's drone lost battery charge and had a "catastrophic landing" in the snow. The sheriff's office volunteers eventually arrived in the late morning and towed both vehicles to safety.
The Sheriff's Office shared the particulars of the January 30 rescue in a Facebook post. While the post reprimanded Ryan for driving on a winter road that was not maintained, it commended him for his innovative approach to escape. Jason Bowman, a search-and-rescue coordinator with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office said that he has been doing search and rescue since 2007 and this is the most unique call for help he has observed.
After the drone's crash landing, Ryan posted a YouTube video on Saturday, explaining how he had used an improvised phone sling. He stated that he will not be traveling on the mountain road until the weather conditions improve. Ryan has also bought a GPS equipped with a satellite phone service, which he believes will be more dependable. He said, "Going forward, I hope I won’t have to do another drone flight rescue."