OnStar gets man stuck on closed mountain pass
The OnStar service navigated a Carbondale man into trouble by sending him up a snowy, impassable mountain road last week, then it helped bail him out.According to a report filed by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the 52-year-old man needed to get to the Eagle County Airport but wanted to avoid traffic delays caused by work on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon. He consulted the OnStar navigational aid system in his GMC Envoy and was directed up Cottonwood Pass Road, a high-altitude, gravel route between Missouri Heights and Gypsum.OnStar offers multiple services to drivers of GMC vehicles. The service is used for everything from navigating to unlocking doors to alerting authorities during emergencies.What OnStar didn’t tell the man, whose identity wasn’t revealed in the police report, is that Cottonwood Pass is typically closed during the winter. The road had been plowed around Thanksgiving to accommodate traffic when I-70 was closed by a rockslide in Glenwood Canyon, but that was a one-time deal during extraordinary circumstances.The man saw that the road had been plowed in the past and proceeded beyond the point where it is marked as closed. About one mile past that point, he got stuck when his Envoy slid off the road.The man contacted an OnStar representative and described his plight. OnStar contacted dispatchers for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office at about 2 p.m. on Dec. 8 and requested help.The sheriff’s office requested help spotting the stranded motorist from a National Guard helicopter. Once pinpointed about 15 miles north-northwest of El Jebel, three men on snowmobiles were dispatched from the West Eagle Search and Rescue squad.They reached the man with no trouble and brought him back one mile to where a deputy was waiting in a warm vehicle.Deputy Dave Lawson said the stranded motorist was unable to walk out and seek help because he has multiple sclerosis. He needed his vehicle because it has special equipment, so Eagle County Road and Bridge went the extra mile for him, so to speak, and plowed the mile of road so he could get his Envoy out.Lawson said the man would have waited a long, long time before anyone came across him – probably until someone on a snowmobile ventured by. So he was fortunate to have the OnStar system, even if it did give him the bum steer to start the adventure, Lawson said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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