California man survives in snowy wilderness for seven days after GPS leads him down unplowed path

Jessica Schladebeck, New York Daily News
·1 min read

A California man was rescued after spending seven days trapped on a snowy mountainside road after his GPS instructed him to follow a route that had yet to be plowed.

Harland Earls was traveling from Grass Valley to a birthday party in Truckee on Jan. 24 when a massive snow storm struck, according to a press release from the Sierra County Sheriff’s office. Hoping to speed up what is typically a two-hour drive, the 29-year-old California native turned on his GPS and followed directions for the quickest trip.

Earls had only just started following his new route when his truck became stuck on Henness Pass Road, which was already blanketed with snow and ice at the time. While trying to free his truck, Earls got his phone wet and it stopped working entirely, his mother, Julie Earls told CNN. He then stashed the device in a plastic bag with dry noodles and hand warmers he discovered in his car.

Three days later, his phone was dry enough for him to dial 911. And while the call was ultimately dropped, authorities were able to use the signal to track down the missing man. He survived off two cans of beans, some sausages and a few pieces of stale, moldy bread while rescue crews searched for him both by sky and land.

The sheriff’s office also noted that Earls had winter clothing and some propane for a camp stove in addition to his pickup truck’s camper, which provided him shelter.

“The Helicopter crew was able to locate the missing person and land nearby,” accoridng to authorities. “The helicopter transported the subject to awaiting officers just south of Downieville. He was in good medical condition and declined medical treatment.”