Betsy Swanback

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October 1, 2013
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GPS leads California couple into rough Oregon logging road

CAMAS VALLEY — A California couple who followed their GPS and ended up stranded in their RV approximately four miles west of Camas Valley were rescued Monday afternoon, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said today.

Charles Edward Garton, 73, and his wife, Doris, became stuck behind fallen trees on the remains of a logging road around 8:30 p.m. Saturday in a 23-foot motor home pulling a utility trailer with a golf cart.

The couple were traveling from Ridgecrest, Calif., to Coos Bay on Saturday, officials said. Charles Garton took a route selected by his GPS unit, which directed him to leave Interstate 5 at Glendale and continue northwest toward Highway 42 by taking logging roads.

Deputies first made contact with the Gartons around 11 a.m. Sunday. Deputies cleared the road, but were unable to free the motor home. Roseburg Towing also responded and was equally unsuccessful.

The couple were offered a ride to town, but said they did not want to leave their motor home, deputies said.

The search and rescue team went to the scene around 1:30 p.m. Monday to again try to move the motor home, deputies said.

Search and rescue member Jerry Applegarth said the team found the couple in a tough spot.

“We used chain saws to get in to them and yet they drove their motor home down in there,” he said. “It was a mess.”

He said the couple had no way to turn the RV around.

He said the Gartons were in “fantastic” spirits when the team arrived. The two were eating tuna fish sandwiches, he said.

The team put straps and chains on the front axle of the RV and attached it to two Jeeps, he said. They then started pulling the motor home up toward a road. The recovery took about an hour and a half.

He said the RV suffered significant damage on the outside and underneath, but the couple were able to continue on to Coos Bay. They were uninjured.

Glide Rural Fire Department Training Officer Andy Hatfield warned drivers of blindly following a GPS without knowing the route.

“You have to be careful on any road, especially when it starts getting narrow or impassable,” he said.

He advised motorists to let someone know their route if traveling into an unfamiliar area.

“Let people know you’re going, if you’re going into a forested area, and when you plan on being back,” he said.

Applegarth also warned it’s unwise to persist with suspicious GPS routes.

“It was just a big mistake of following a GPS,” he said. “It’s happened a lot in the past where people have just blindly followed their GPS to take a shortcut.”

• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or

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The News-Review Updated Oct 1, 2013 05:08PM Published Oct 10, 2013 09:43AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.