Stranded Man Uses Drone to Get Cell Signal, Summon Rescue

Anyone familiar with life hacks? What about saving-your-own-life hacks?

That’s what one Oregon man unlocked recently, when he used a drone and his cell phone to spring himself and his vehicle from an impassible snowy road.

According to the Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue department, the driver got stuck on the remote road in the Willamette National Forest. He looked at his phone and saw zero bars — and that’s when the proverbial wheels started turning.

The man had a small drone with him, so he drafted a text message containing his location, hit “send,” then attached the phone to the remote-controlled aircraft.

He simply sent the drone up to an altitude within reach of the nearest cell tower, and Search and Rescue operators received the text.

‘All-too-familiar’ mistakes lead to creative solution

The sheriff’s department called the ensuing rescue mission “all-too-familiar.” But it could have been worse had the lost driver not made several good decisions.

The first problem actually resulted from a bad choice: Nobody knew where he was. According to the sheriff’s department, his family was out of the country and he hadn’t given anybody a cutoff time to call for help.

However, he aced the test from there. First of all, he didn’t leave his vehicle.

“Rarely does anyone in Oregon die from exposure waiting in their vehicle to be found and rescued, but we have unfortunately seen many poor outcomes from those who chose to walk away,” the department said in its report.

From there, he chose a “trusted person” to send the text message to. That led directly to the department receiving the dropped pin, and the successful recovery mission. And the rescuers even got a two-fer out of it. While they responded to the drone operator, crews also located and rescued another driver who’d been stuck in the snow for “multiple days.”

While the department noted it was impressed by the man’s creativity, it took the occasion to render some winter travel safety tips. Read the above Facebook post for details.

In general, always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Try to travel with two vehicles, one of which can pull the other out of a bind. Finally, think “what will happen if I get stuck?” rather than “I don’t think I’ll get stuck” before you head out.

As for the drone pilot, reports indicate he emerged from the situation without suffering major harm.

Talk about a modern-day self-rescue.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.