Clarkston pair rescued after week-plus in mountains of Garfield County

Jonathan Moore and Sarah Warden were stranded Jan. 15.

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POMEROY -- Two Clarkston residents spent more than a week in the Blue Mountains after their two-wheel drive pickup became stuck in the Willow Springs area Jan. 15.

Jackson Russell, a logger employed by Mark Swanson Logging of Clarkston, was plowing snow in the area Monday and discovered the pair sheltered in a trailer owned by the logging company.

Jonathan Moore, 25, and Sarah Warden, 26 had gone for a drive into the mountains Sunday. The only food they had with them was dog food, which they shared with a dog that was with them, according to Garfield County Sheriff Ben Keller.

When they were found, "they were hungry and cold," Keller said.

Moore used a non-initialized cell phone to call 911 on Tuesday, but the phone had no service provider, and latitude or longitude coordinates weren't provided. A non-initialized phone does not have a service provider, but if it is charged can be used to call 911.

Moore's calls were broken up, and he was not able to provide a description of their location, Keller said. In the first call, he said he was "stuck in the woods." The reception was "so broken" it was hard to make out much of what he said. In a second call he told the dispatcher he recalled seeing a sign that said "Pomeroy 18 miles" and they had left from Clarkston Heights. They were found seven miles from the Pomeroy sign.

With that information, Sheriff's Office and Garfield County Search and Rescue personnel searched throughout the night Tuesday and all day Wednesday. The search was suspended due to deteriorating weather conditions.

During the eight days the two were missing, no missing persons reports were made, Keller said.

Keller said he is puzzled as to why the searchers didn't find the pair during their search. Searchers went through the logging camp where the couple was eventually found, but had no indication they were there. They did not find the white pickup, located three miles from the trailer.

Moore and Warden told rescuers they spent three days in their pickup before deciding to leave it. When they went into the area Sunday, it had been freshly plowed, but by Monday about two feet of fresh snow had fallen, obscuring the white pickup, Keller said.

Russell had returned to the camp to open the road so the logging company could remove equipment for the winter.

After calling 911 to report his discovery, Russell took them to the Iron Springs area where they met the Garfield County Ambulance. The ambulance transported Moore and Warden to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.

The dog that shared in the ordeal with its owner went back to Clarkston, although it was not known whether it went by ambulance, a Sheriff's Office spokesman said today.

Information about their condition or whether they were hospitalized was not available.

Carrie Chicken can be reached at cec@innw.net or 522-5289.

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