Elderly Prineville man rescued after getting lost in the snow
An elderly Prineville man who went missing east of Bend Thursday was rescued later that evening after he was found lying in the snow.
According a Deschutes County Sheriff's Office report, 82-year-old John Goodwin had gotten his truck stuck in the snow while trying to drive to his ranch on Wednesday. It was believed Goodwin had spent the night in his truck and then attempted to walk out at some point on Thursday.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Deschutes County 9-1-1 Dispatch received a call from Goodwin's daughter, Lydia Smith, who reported her father was lost and walking in the snow somewhere east of Bend in the area of Highway 20 East and Highway 27.
Smith further advised that her father had dementia and sounded disoriented on the phone. Temperatures in the search area during this incident were approximately 19 degrees.
Four Deschutes County deputies responded to the described area, while dispatch worked on a ping for Goodwin's cell phone. Authorities noted that the area surrounding Highway 20 East and Highway 27 has numerous pockets of poor cell reception, which resulted in unreliable initial ping results.
Ten DCSO Search and Rescue volunteers responded to assist as well as three additional DCSO deputies. Air Link was contacted and advised they would have an available flight crew to assist at about 7 p.m. Due to the search area being on the border of Deschutes and Crook counties, the Crook County Sheriff's Office was contacted, and personnel from that agency responded to the search area.
The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center was contacted, and a request was made for their Cellular Forensics Specialists to assist in further pinpointing Goodwin's location, utilizing his cell phone data.
Just before 7:30 p.m., the AFRCC contacted DCSO, having identified a likely location for Goodwin within 854 meters, an open area on BLM land northeast of Merrill Road off of Highway 27. Air Link and ground resources were directed to this area.
At about 8:10 p.m., Air Link spotted Goodwin's truck in the search area provided by AFRCC and was able to see footprints in the snow going south. Air Link followed the footprints for about a half mile, where they located Goodwin laying in the snow.
Air Link relayed GPS coordinates for Goodwin's location to ground units who traveled as far as they could by vehicle, before having to hike/snowshoe the remaining 300 yards. DCSO Search and Rescue volunteers and one deputy reached Goodwin at approximately 8:40 p.m. His clothes were wet, and he was showing signs of hypothermia.
Search and Rescue volunteers warmed Goodwin and used pads to get him off of the snow. They then carried him back to their vehicles, transporting him to the Highway 20 East and George Millican Road intersection, where they met Bend Fire Department personnel. Bend Fire personnel further assessed Goodwin and then transported him to St. Charles Hospital in Bend for further treatment.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office thanked Air Link and AFRCC for their assistance, "which expedited the search and rescue process significantly, potentially saving Goodwin's life."