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For our heroes, saving lives is ‘no big deal’

Last Sunday, I decided it was time to march out into the world and catch up on local news, let you know what’s going on lately in Washington. I gussied up in my winter ensemble of top-and-bottom thermal underwear (the sexy combo with lace around the neck and ankles, ooh-la-la), undershirt, overshirt, T-shirt, fleece shirt, warm pants, two pairs of thick socks, and big heavy sneakers. By the time I was fully dressed, I was too tuckered out to go anywhere; I had to sit down and recover for a few minutes.

We had a bit of excitement on that particular day. A San Francisco fella named Jake decided to visit a cabin he owns up in the high country near Graniteville, taking along his 10-year-old son, two dogs and a brand-new loaded-fer-b’ar 4WD truck.

They went through that big snowstorm from last week but they were safe and OK in their cabin. However, when they went to leave, they got caught on the way back when their truck got stuck in the snow, even though it was wearing good snow tires and tire chains. Jake was able to contact his wife via a Nextel phone; she in turn alerted everyone at the Washington Hotel, but it was too late at night to go out. Jake was advised to hunker down with his boy, keep the engine running, put the dogs in the cab and try to stay warm.



Early the next morning, Clayton, Mitch, Donny and Big Bill went to the rescue, but the going got too tough for the truck they were in. They had brought some food and other supplies with them, which they passed off to Chuck Krausch, Don Shipley and Don’s dad, Joe, who continued on their quads until they too could go no farther. The provisions were then given to several snowmobilers (names unknown) who were in the area, who did make it to where Jake was stranded. Wow! He was able to eventually dig his truck out and drive down into Washington, shaken and grateful. “I’ll tell ya the truth, Jesus was up there with us, that’s for damn sure.”

Merv: “Y’know what? If you’re not used to driving in rough, snowy conditions, it’s really best to stay home. There are times when even a big-ass truck can’t do the job and you need a Sno-Kat or snowmobile. I know it’s hard to have the wisdom to know that ahead of time, and that’s why sometimes we have to go out and haul somebody out of a potentially dangerous situation. Oh yeah, and whatever happened to carrying jackets, extra food, blankets, appropriate shoes and clothing in your vehicle?”




Donny saw it a different way, and he was outraged. His statement is heavily edited. “He was a very foolish man; he not only risked his own life, but he put his son in harm’s way, which is far worse. He had a good truck but no idea how to drive it in challenging country, how to handle it in bad weather, how to make it work for him. He and his kid could’ve easily frozen to death because of his ignorance. He has no idea how lucky he was.”

You understand, this kind of thing doesn’t make it into the newspaper. Word will quickly spread that someone is in trouble in the woods, several locals will quickly work out a plan of sorts, and then put their own selves in danger taking care of the situation. You can’t tell them that, though. “Aw hell, we wuzn’t doin’ nuthin anyway, so we gave somebody a hand. No big deal.” Yeah, sure. Heroes always talk like that.

Vivian Herron’s column appears on Saturdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.


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