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Wrong turn leaves families stranded in snow, hoping for rescue

2:54 AM, Dec 7, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - They're terrifying tales of survival after being stranded in the snow. In three separate cases, a wrong turn meant disaster.

Roderick Clifton of Citrus Heights and his girlfriend Paula Lane were headed to Nevada when they got stuck at the Burnside Lake Road of Highway 88 and Highway 89 in Alpine County. Lane told law enforcement that they drove around a closed and locked gate.

According to Lane, Clifton wanted to test out the four-wheel drive capabilities of his  Jeep Cherokee. When they got stuck, Clifton lost his life when left the vehicle looking for help.

That harrowing ordeal that the Citrus Heights couple faced brings back memories of another couple.

In December 1992, Jim and Jennifer Stolpa left for Idaho. They changed their itinerary when I-80 over Donner Pass was closed due to heavy snow. The young couple chose to take an unmaintained secondary road and were stranded for eight days. But, they and their 5-month-old son survived.

The Stolpas spent four days shivering in their truck, surviving on a fruit cake, some cookies and a bag of corn chips. On the fifth day, they all tried walking for help. The wife and son took shelter in a small, shallow cave in the side of a cliff. It took several days and miles of hiking in the snow, but the husband managed to eventually get help.

Another story made national headlines. A Bay Area couple, James Kim, his wife and their children, were stranded in the snow up in Oregon back in November 2006. The Kims left Portland and were returning to San Francisco.

As they were heading to a cabin, they missed a turnoff and ended up in a remote area of southwestern Oregon. The Kims turned, by mistake, onto one of hundreds of unpaved logging roads supervised by the Bureau of Land Management that should have been locked.

The family burned their car's tires to signal rescuers, but search efforts began four days later.

Almost a week later, a local helicopter pilot who wasn't part of the search effort, spotted Mrs. Kim and her two daughters walking on a remote road. James Kim's body was found days later in a creek.

The three stories of survival have made national headlines. It is a very real reminder that it could happening to anyone.

By Suzanne Phan, sphan@news10.net

Twitter: @suzannephan

Facebook: SuzannePhanNews10

The Associated Press

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