Off-roaders rescued after hours-long ShasCo search

MONTGOMERY CREEK — Authorities say Search and Rescue members and other emergency personnel were instrumental in helping to locate and rescue two off-road enthusiasts after their side-by-side utility vehicle suffered a mechanical failure, leaving the pair stranded for several hours Tuesday evening, Jan. 21.

The pair, who are both Cal Fire firefighters, reportedly spent about seven hours walking back toward the vehicle they had used to tow their Polaris to the area of Fenders Ferry Rd., north of SR-299E, before rescuers located them and helped transport them back to the paved road.


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SHASCOM emergency dispatchers were first alerted to the missing men’s situation shortly before 7 p.m., after a woman called 911 to report that her boyfriend, Marcus Pond, 30, of Redding, and his friend, Ben Riley, 31, of Anderson, were overdue in returning home from their off-roading trip, Shasta County Sheriff’s SAR Coordinator Sgt. Rob Sandbloom reported after the rescue.

Deputies from Shasta County Sheriff’s Burney Station responded to the area and soon learned Pond and Riley had traveled to the Fenders Ferry Rd. area in Montgomery Creek earlier that morning to enjoy off-roading in a Polaris side-by-side. They were last heard from around 12:40 p.m., when Riley checked in with his wife.

When the two men failed to return home or check in by a pre-designated time, Pond’s girlfriend called 911 for help, according to Sandbloom.

Although responding deputies quickly located Pond and Riley’s vehicle and trailer from hauling the side-by-side, “numerous attempts to contact both Pond and Riley on their cellphones went unanswered,” said Sandbloom; who later explained, “Due to the remote location, cell service is minimal in the area.”

“It was raining, the temperature was between 35-38 degrees, and there was approximately one and a half feet of snow on the ground,” the Sgt. continued; adding, “Due to the weather conditions, air support could not fly the area.”

Based on the circumstances, deputies at the scene requested assistance from Shasta County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team as well as Cal Fire and other emergency personnel.

Search and rescue members soon began arriving in the area with a variety of 4×4 vehicles, off-road vehicles, and snowmobiles. Cal Fire also sent resources to the area to assist with the search.

As the hours-long search was continuing around 10:15 p.m., Riley found an area with cell reception, from where he was able to contact SHASCOM and provide his GPS coordinates to dispatchers; who then relayed that information to deputies searching the area for the pair.

Official radio traffic at the time indicated that Riley told dispatchers he and his friend were OK, but cold; and could feel hypothermia beginning to set in.

Using the provided coordinates, personnel searching the area located the two men at around 11:15 p.m.

“They were transported to medical staff staged in the area, where they were treated and released,” according to Sandbloom.

Pond and Riley told rescuers their side-by-side suffered mechanical issues around 4 p.m. After the men were unable to continue traveling in the Polaris, they began the long walk back toward their parked truck and trailer.

After the successful rescue, Shasta County sheriff’s officials thanked Cal Fire and the Search and Rescue volunteers who responded and assisted in locating Riley and Pond.

“They live up to the motto, ‘That Others May Live’,” Sandbloom said of the County’s SAR members

The SAR coordinator also used the opportunity to remind area residents who choose to enjoy the numerous off-road trails throughout the County’s forest and wilderness areas to always be prepared, especially during inclement weather.

“Try to go with multiple people and vehicles,” Sandbloom admonished. “Have a trip plan, so others know where you are going and when you are returning. Take along food and water, proper clothing for the weather conditions, phone chargers, satellite phone or a PLB or SPOT device.”

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Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.