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Man dies, woman survives mountain ordeal in the Sierras

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Candace_66
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Man dies, woman survives mountain ordeal in the Sierras

Post by Candace_66 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:00 pm

"...Levy said his office has pieced together a partial scenario of events:

Lane, of Gardnerville, Nev., and her companion, Roderick Clifton of Citrus Heights in Sacramento County, were driving west on Highways 88 and 89 in Alpine County on Nov. 29 when Clifton spotted a cross-country ski hut near Pickett's Junction. He decided to pull off the highway to test out his Jeep Cherokee in the snow.

Clifton drove around a locked gate on a closed dirt road and after driving a few miles became stuck in the mud. The next morning Clifton decided to walk away from the car and find help. Lane tried to convince Clifton not to leave the car.

On Dec. 1, Clifton's family in Citrus Heights told police that the pair had gone missing. Rescue crews began searching along the highway looking for the Jeep.

Clifton did not return to Lane or reach help. After waiting in the car another three days, Lane decided that she too had to leave the car and find safety.

Lane crawled out of the car and began half walking, half crawling along the road toward the distant cross-country ski hut.

Knowing that his sister used to camp in the area, Paula Lane's brother Gary Lane began searching for the pair. Gary Lane borrowed a front loader on Wednesday and began exploring the mountain road hoping he might find his sister and Clifton.

"Gary Lane drove up the road with the loader for several miles where he found (his sister) distressed and crawling in the road," Levy said. "Gary Lane loaded Paula Lane into the bucket of the loader and returned her to Highway 88."

There, Gary Lane called rescuers who began treating Paula Lane for hypothermia."

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/M ... 097923.php

Good grief! I like the rhetorical question posed in one of the comments at the website: What was their plan if the Jeep DID get stuck?! Obviously they didn't have one. Not to mention, I'm pretty sure it was a crime to go around the gate.

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jacknv7
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Post by jacknv7 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:25 pm

Here is an article from the local paper in the area where they were found...

http://www.recordcourier.com/article/20 ... ofile=1049

I live about 20 miles from Hope Valley where the road to Burnside Lake starts. when I hard they had suspended the search I wondered if they checked all the side roads like Burnside. But if the gate was closed and lock there would be no thought in checking I assume.

Burnside Lake is about 5.5 miles from the highway. Map link below...

http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Burns ... 4&t=m&z=14

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Candace_66
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Post by Candace_66 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:26 pm

I've been by that highway junction many times over the years, and often wondered what was down that dirt road. I recall turning off there and driving in a little ways and parking for the night, but never did really check out the road.

I kinda like the idea of the brother "commandeering" the heavy equipment to use for the search. I wonder if he is affiliated with that agency or got permission first, or if he really did just help himself to the use of it?

Of course I also wonder if he explained to authorities why the couple might have taken that particular road, and tried to get them to search the area? Did they refuse to because the road was closed?

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Post by jacknv7 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:21 am

Sounds like the family called last Friday asking that the Burnside Lake area be checked...

"Family members called Douglas County 911 Services, which serves as dispatch for Alpine County late Friday night, to ask searchers to check Burnside Lake.

Douglas authorities said that message was passed onto Alpine County shortly after midnight."

Here is a followup article...

http://www.recordcourier.com/article/20 ... ofile=1049

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Candace_66
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Post by Candace_66 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:00 pm

That provides a lot of details. Thx for the update.

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Post by MojaveGeek » Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:57 pm

So the standing wisdom is "stay with your vehicle" when you're stuck. You'd have thought that following a road which had been good enough for you to drive in (until you got stuck) would have been straightforward. But you have to have the gear - hiking out in running shoes in some snow is quite different than if you have boots, for example. And it sounds like the guy went out into incoming bad weather, which would not have been too wise.

Given the rescue, they probably would have been fine staying in the car, one thinks? Not trying to say anyone was wrong, just thinking about how to handle he situation.

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Post by jacknv7 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:39 pm

Hard to say in this situation. The gate had been closed and locked so searchers might not think of going back and checking. And the search helicopter didn't spot the Jeep stuck at Burnside Lake from the air.

2.5 miles west of the Burnside Lake road is the road to Blue Lakes. When they shut the gate to Blue Lakes the area there is used as a snow park for snowmobiles and cross country skiers. So Burnside gets little, if any, winter travel. So if they waited with the Jeep there is a chance no one would be back in that area till spring.

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Post by jacknv7 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:49 am

Man who died at Burnside Lake had drugs in system
Staff Reports Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Gardnerville resident had methamphetamine and THC in his system when he died of exposure at Burnside Lake last fall, an autopsy revealed.

Roderick Paul Clifton, 44, died of hypothermia according to El Dorado Pathology due to prolonged exposure.

Alpine Undersheriff Robert Levy announced that the cause of death was consistent with the scene where Clifton's body was found.

Toxicology reports revealed the drugs, Levy said.

Clifton and Gardnerville resident Paula Lane drove to Burnside Lake on Nov. 29, 2012, on their way home from a visit to California where Clifton had acquired a 1989 Jeep.

He drove the Jeep from Pickett's Junction, around a locked gate, and seven miles to Burnside Lake where the vehicle became mired in the mud just before a snowstorm struck. With no cell phone reception, the couple was trapped and no one knew where they were.

Lane said Clifton tried to walk down Burnside Lake Road for help on the morning of Nov. 30 as snow was falling.

After spending three nights alone in the vehicle, Lane tried to walk out through 3 feet of snow, coming across Clifton's body about a mile from the Jeep.

She spent the next two nights in the wilderness until her brother commandeered a CalTrans frontloader and drove up the road to find her on Dec. 5.

http://www.recordcourier.com/article/20 ... ofile=1049

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Candace_66
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Post by Candace_66 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:12 am

So he got all hopped up before or while trying to hike out in a snowstorm for help? If you're stranded in the mountains right before a big storm is due, getting wasted shouldn't be a priority or even an option. :roll:

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