Maps app leads two traveling parties to become stranded in Grant County

By on Tuesday, December 12th, 2023 in Eastern/Southeast Oregon News More Top Stories

GRANT/BAKER COUNTY – Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley has issued a release which explains that two separate traveling parties had become stranded last night on Forest Road 73, west of Granite. The Sheriff said despite the signage indicating the road had no winter exits, both parties took the 73 Road on a suggestion from the Apple Maps app. following the closure of I-84.

Sheriff McKinley was out late Monday night, assisting the parties back out to the main highway and eventually back to John Day for the night. He reminds the public to “stay to well defined roads,” and has mentioned in the past not to rely solely on a GPS device for travel, especially during the wintertime.

Find the Sheriff’s full press release below:

(Press Release from Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley)

A closed freeway in Baker County, snowy conditions on secondary roads in Grant County, and the use of Apple Maps, led to two separate vehicles being stranded west of Granite on the evening of December 11th. 

The Grant County Emergency Communication Center received two different “text to 911” messages starting at 5:29 pm reporting stranded motorist on Forest Road 73. The 73 road begins in Baker County, and accesses the Anthony Lakes and Ski Lodge, and continues to Granite. It also connects with Forest Road 52, that continues on to Ukiah. 

These roads appear as suggestions as routes on Apple Maps, and to the unsuspecting traveler, can lead to a long night, or worse. 

Despite a large reader board at the intersection of the Sumpter Road and Highway 7 in Baker County, warning of the fact there is no winter exit, multiple vehicles chose this alternate route last night. 

Due to winter conditions and freezing fog in the Baker City area, tow trucks were delayed in responding to the Granite area, and then diverted to semi-trucks that tried to drive past the Ski Lodge on the 73 road to the north, and became stuck there. 

The three stranded travelers in two separate vehicles on the south end of the 73 road were assisted by the Grant County Sheriff, and then led from the area back to Highway 26 and John Day for the night, arriving near 11pm. One motorist was from Florida, relocating to a military base near Seattle, and the other two were from Texas, relocating to Seattle for work. 

Both were using the same Apple Maps App. 

The Grant County Road Department and USFS were contacted to get signage in place to hopefully prevent further issues on this remote stretch of road. 

Please, when traveling, stay to well defined roads, and do not venture onto the by-ways as it could lead to potentially fatal results.