Reno, NV…Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue teams rescued a total 25 stranded and unprepared motorists whose vehicles became stuck on Dog Valley Road or Henness Pass Road throughout the month of March. These rescue efforts total 186.25 rescue hours, primarily provided by volunteers on multiple Search and Rescue teams. Most of those rescued were from California and Nevada.
The Sheriff’s Office issued a warning to the public in January to not detour off of Interstate 80 onto Dog Valley or Henness Pass Roads in inclement weather. However, most of those rescued during the month of March were recreating in the area.
Both Dog Valley Road and Henness Pass Road are two-lane dirt roads located north of Stampede Reservoir. The east-west roads connect California State Route 89 to Verdi, Nevada. In the summer months, the route offers beautiful scenery; however, in the winter it’s a different story. On the north side of the roads is a steep mountain downgrade. On the south side of the roads, a drainage ditch. Hard packed snow on the roads quickly turns to ice – causing drivers to slide off. Even with this spring weather, there is still a heavy accumulation of snow on the two roadways.
Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue’s 125 volunteers are on call 24 hours a day and are expected to respond immediately when called. Ninety-six percent (the national average) of all searches are resolved during the first eight hours, but some may last a week or more. The six teams that comprise the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit focus on saving life, not property. Those who are stranded on Dog Valley Road or Henness Pass Road can expect that their vehicle will remain on scene until it can be safely towed by the owner.
When driving in inclement weather be prepared:
Leave enough time to safely reach your destination and plan your route to avoid snowy/icy areas and steep hills
Check weather and road conditions by calling 511 in Nevada
Wear weather appropriate clothing
Maintain your car: check your battery, tire tread, windshield wipers, levels of no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir and your antifreeze
Maintain a high fuel level in your gas tank—for EV drivers, plan your charging stations ahead of time
Keep a basic winter travel kit in the car: pre-charged portable cell phone charger, chains, a flashlight, jumper cables, shovel, snowbrush, ice scraper, water, road flares and a blanket
If you get stuck in snow, leave window slightly cracked for ventilation, and make sure vehicle exhaust system is clear of snow
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to preserving a safe and secure community with professionalism, respect, integrity and the highest commitment to equality. Sheriff Darin Balaam is the 27th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County since the Office was created in 1861. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office strives to ensure public safety by building trust and creating partnerships within the diverse communities in which we serve. We will promote the dignity of all people supported by our words and actions through open communication while fostering an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect.