ASHLAND, Ore. — “Just kind of that drop in your stomach where you think holy cow this could have gotten bad really quickly,” said Alex Smith, father.
An Ashland family says they’re counting their blessings after their car broke down on a remote, mountain road during a snow storm.
“We were buried, it was not moving whatsoever,” said Smith.
On Saturday, Smith says he, his wife, and two kids were driving home from thanksgiving in Idaho when they got into some trouble.
He says they were only 23 miles from home when a heavy gust of wind hit their car blowing it off the side of Dead Indian Memorial Road.
“Really that’s what caught us was a big wind burst,” he said. “And it just pushed the car over the side of the road and we just got taken off the edge pretty much in waist-deep snow.”
With no cell reception and the car’s battery dead, Smith says he tried to stay calm for his family.
“Thinking at that point that we could have ended up staying all night there in the car was a very dire thought,” he said.
As temperatures continued to drop and hope of being found was dwindling, Smith says a ‘guardian angel’ by the name of Jackson County Sheriff Deputy Ian Lance came to their rescue.
“He kept us calm, he kept us warm, he shared fun stories with the kids,” said Smith.
Deputy Lance says he was out patrolling some ‘problem’ areas where folks often get lost or stuck when he spotted the Smith family.
“There’s only about four people who live beyond that point on the road. It’s a pretty lonely place at night,” said Deputy Ian Lance, Jackson Co. Search & Rescue.
Four hours later, after the family learned no tow trucks could make the trip, Deputy Lance offered to drive the family home.
A gesture, Smith says he and his family are eternally grateful for.
“He came in and really saved the day for us and maybe for him it’s just another day at the office, but for us… it was everything,” Smith said.
Although Deputy Lance shied away at being called ‘hero’ or guardian angel, he says it’s times like this where he can make a real difference in someone’s life that makes what he does worthwhile.
“If you talk with most law enforcement, that’s why they got into doing the job is to help people and it sounds corny but that’s the same answer that they’d give after ten, fifteen, twenty years on the job,” he said.
Deputy Lance wants to remind everyone if you’re heading outdoors, be prepared.
That means packing an emergency kit, extra food and water, and telling someone where you’re going.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia. She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.