MARIPOSA COUNTY – There have been many tales of travelers becoming hopelessly lost after following the instructions on their GPS. This story had a happy ending, after several agencies responded to locate a family who definitely took a wrong turn.
The Safir family, who were enroute to Yosemite National Park from the Stockton area, contacted the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Emergency Dispatch Center on Tuesday, Mar. 17, just after 6:30 p.m., to report themselves as lost.
The Safirs, four adults who spoke very little English, were able to relay that they were driving from the Stockton area – possibly on Highway 120 – had been traveling for six hours and were now on a dirt road in the middle of the forest. They were unable to remember which towns they had driven through.
Mariposa County dispatchers questioned the family on their surroundings to try and get a better idea of where they could possibly be, asking them to look for landmarks or other identifying locations. The lost travelers did not remember seeing any burnt trees, gates, cows or distinguishing landmarks.
Yosemite National Park Service along with Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office, Madera County Sheriff’s Office, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol and the US Forest Service were contacted to begin searching in their areas for the tan Volkswagen the family was driving.
The Safirs had been using their GPS (Global Positioning System) to navigate their way to Yosemite National Park. Using the cell tower pings, searchers were able to find a possible location which placed the family inside Mariposa County.
Fortunately, the family did have cell service and were able to text the Sheriff’s Office with photos of their location. The photos were reviewed by Mariposa County deputies who identified the location as possibly being near Chowchilla Mountain.
Deputies, along with a US Forest Service Ranger, searched the area and located the lost family the next afternoon at 3:15 p.m., on a spur road near Chowchilla Mountain Road, 9.5 miles north of 5S25/5S04 on Road 4204 in the area known as 10 Mile Grade.
The family members, who were in good spirits, were transported back to Mariposa by deputies and the Sierra National Forest Ranger.