Thanksgiving blizzard strands 12 people on White Mountain near Rock Springs - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Thanksgiving blizzard strands 12 people on White Mountain near Rock Springs

(Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office)

CASPER, Wyo. — 12 individuals became stranded on White Mountain near Rock Springs due to the Thanksgiving weekend blizzard.

The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office say their deputies assisted four different vehicles that had become stranded, utilizing a new specialized all-terrain vehicle.

“At around 7:00 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 29, 2019, our deputies responded to a report of four different vehicles stranded atop White Mountain in blizzard conditions,” SCSO said on Wednesday, Dec. 4. “We soon identified the location of the stranded vehicles, on White Mountain Road (CR# 53) approximately nine miles south from the intersection of Fourteen Mile Road (CR# 14).”

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“With sustained wind speeds estimated at 60 to 70 mph and gusts as high as 80 mph, we also learned that two of the vehicles were off of the main roadway, stuck near the edge of the mountain, and the high winds were causing them to slide down the mountain.”

After establishing a staging area for their search and rescue efforts near Fourteen Mile Hill north of Rock Springs, a crew set out in the new vehicle to search for the stranded parties.

“At approximately 8:45 p.m., a search and rescue crew deployed up the mountain in a Hagglunds M937A1 Small Unit Support Vehicle (SUSV),” SCSO said. “Rescuers had to cut their own trail with the tracked vehicle, as the road was impassable with snowdrifts measuring three feet high.”

“They also experienced frigid temperatures and blizzard conditions, with the winds and blowing snow limiting visibility to less than 20 feet, forcing them to rely on real-time GPS mapping technology to navigate their route.”

All four stranded vehicles were located within about a half mile of one another.

“By around 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning, rescuers returned to the staging area in one trip with a total of 12 people extracted to safety from their stranded vehicles atop the mountain,” the release adds.

The all-terrain vehicle was originally designed for the Swedish military.

“[T]he vehicle features articulated steering, an independent four-track drive
with reinforced rubber tracks, a servo-assisted steering gear with a turning radius of less than 27 feet and a low ground pressure equivalent to less than half of that exerted by a human foot,” SCSO continued. “It can climb slopes 60 percent or steeper, and is also fully amphibious with a speed in water of up to 3 mph.”

“It has a load capacity of over two tons, and seats 17 passengers. This unique design makes the Hagglunds an ideal vehicle for effectively negotiating through mud, snow, water hazards and other broken terrain.”