Wheelchair incident halts hiking trip | TheUnion.com

Wheelchair incident halts hiking trip

A family hike Friday night turned unpleasant for a Rocklin family when a motorized wheelchair driven by one of them broke down off Independence Trail.

Sabino Deodanes, 52, was testing out his new 300-pound electric wheelchair on the trail, off Highway 49, while his 25-year old son, Gino, and wife, Marjorie, 52, hiked alongside him, according to authorities.

When they got to the end of the wheelchair-accessible trail, about two miles in, they decided to go down a curvy footpath to try to get closer to the South Yuba River, said Bruce Niederberger, a Nevada County Consolidated Fire Department engineer.

“It’s a little walking path that you shouldn’t take a four-wheel-drive truck on,” Niederberger said.

When they turned around to go back, the hill became too steep for the wheelchair, and the wheelchair broke down. Gino Deodanes could not push the heavy chair up the hill, Niederberger said.

He instead hiked back to the family’s car by himself and drove to Rainbow Market, off Highway 49, where he called for help at 9:15 p.m. The call was dispatched to Niederberger and his partner, Dean Weathers.

The firefighters met up with Deodanes at the store and followed him down Independence Trail to the wheelchair. The only problem was the wheelchair was empty and the Deodanes were gone.

“They didn’t wait for us to get back,” Niederberger said.

The firefighters called the Nevada County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team and the Nevada City Fire Department to help find the stranded hikers.

Deodanes had crawled back up the walking path with his wife, making it onto Excelsior Ditch Camp Road. Searchers followed footprints down the road and the two were found at 11:15 p.m., one-half mile from the South Yuba River.

Sheriff’s officers used four-wheel-drive vehicles to carry the man and woman back to the road and everyone was off the trail by 3:15 a.m., Niederberger said, although he was not sure how the wheelchair was recovered. No one was hurt, but the family was embarrassed, Niederberger said.

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