Family’s Griswold-Like Christmas Tree Search Ends With Daring Search-and-Rescue Effort

by Jennifer Shea

Like something out of a Chevy Chase movie, a Washington family’s quest for a Christmas tree very nearly ended in disaster last week. Instead, it ended with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife rescuing them.

The family got into a dangerous situation after they ignored the weather forecast, which predicted up to 18 inches of snow and winds up to 50 mph, to venture into the Blue Mountains in search of a Christmas tree. They also ignored a “road closed” sign along the way. On top of all that, they did not dress for winter weather.

Despite the family’s recklessness, DFW authorities maintained their sense of humor about the situation. They titled their news release on the ordeal “Griswold Family Rescue,” a nod to the Chevy Chase comedies about the accident-prone Griswold family.

Christmas Tree Search Ends in Search-and-Rescue Effort

Last Saturday night, the family got stuck en route to find a Christmas tree. So they made an emergency call.

Unfortunately for the family, the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office was experiencing staffing shortages and equipment issues and couldn’t rescue them. The sheriff’s office called in DFW assistance with the search and rescue mission.

Then help was on the way, because Sergeant Mosman of the DFW police agreed to lead the mission, which he carried out along with three search and rescue volunteers. They took off on DFW snowmobiles after the family.

The rescuers eventually found the family members who had tried to find a Christmas tree, and who numbered five plus a dog. They also found another family member along the way who had gotten buried in a drift when he came to rescue them.  

Sergeant Mosman and his crew then spent the next two and a half hours transporting the family members back to safety on their snowmobiles. It was bad enough to be out there in whiteout conditions. But the large dog also peed on Sergeant Mosman when he was carting it back on his lap.

“Sergeant Mosman found that a snowmobile handles completely different when there is a teenager onboard and a dog that is not very happy to be there sitting in your lap,” the news release noted.

Authorities left the two stuck vehicles behind to be recovered at a later date. However, that might not be until next spring.

Blue Mountains Are the Less-Traveled Northwest Mountain Range

The Blue Mountains stretch across northeastern Oregon and the southeastern corner of Washington state. With elevations from 1,600 to 6,500 feet, the mountains are starkly beautiful but less traveled than other nearby mountain ranges.

While they’re about a five-hour drive from major cities in Washington and Oregon, the Blue Mountains are relatively unknown even to residents of those cities, according to Backpacker. And they’re chock full of wild animals. (Another variable that made the unnamed family’s Christmas tree search potentially dangerous.)

Fortunately for those Washington state Griswolds, they escaped encounters with bears amid the snowstorm. So they are now safely at home, albeit without their cars, and hopefully satisfied with a fake tree.