Ham Radio Saves a Family in Death Valley

ladn

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via Amateur Radio Saves Family in Death Valley National Park

"When all Else Fails"--The ARRL is touting how a ham's emergency message on 10m saved his family when their vehicle became stuck (somewhere) in Death valley National Park.

I'm glad these folks ended up safe, but the story lacks a lot of details that might provide more context:
  • Were these folks on a paved road or were they in the back country?
  • What kind of vehicle were they driving (was it suitable for the terrain they were experiencing and did the driver have sufficient driving experience)?
  • Did they check the weather reports before heading out?
  • Why were they traveling alone in (what the press release describes as) a dangerous area? And was it an area where visitors were supposed to be?
  • Did they check in with a ranger station to ascertain driving conditions and leave an itinerary in case of emergency?
 

SA4MDN

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There was this,, "stuck in mud in a dangerous area." so i guess not paved
 

AK9R

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This is from Amateur Radio Newsline and not attributed to the ARRL:
HAMS SUMMON HELP AFTER DEATH VALLEY DISTRESS CALL

PAUL/ANCHOR: When getting on the air from a national park isn't a POTA activation - but a call for help - other hams are always there, as one new operator in California discovered. We hear this story from Ralph Squillace KK6ITB.

RALPH: A distress call from an amateur radio operator stranded in Death Valley mobilized some quick-acting amateur radio operators - some of them hundreds of miles away - to get the ham and his family some assistance. According to personal accounts and media reports, Moritz Wacker, KO6DZX, was camping with his family on Friday April 5th, when their vehicle became stuck in the mud. Caleb Gustwiller, KD8TGB, and Craig Rower, KE8QJV, were among those who picked up his weak distress call on 28.430 MHz. The stranded ham had his radio along for the trip and used it. Caleb said in an email to Newsline that he and other hams who were listening -- including fellow members of the Black Swamp Amateur Radio Club -- heard him faintly in Ohio. Those hams along with many others posted on the Parks on the Air page on Facebook to get the word out -- and still others called the county sheriff in Death Valley, police in San Diego, which QRZ.com lists as the ham's address. Other radio operators reached out to the National Parks Service police. Caleb said it was an all-out effort from various locations.

Caleb told Newsline that the stranded ham is a relatively new licensee. This was apparently a camping trip, not a POTA outing, but contacts made with the Xiegu G90 and quarter-wave vertical did the trick. According to all accounts, Rangers found the family and they were back home safely that night.

This Ralph Squillace KK6ITB.

(CALEB GUSTWILLER, KD8TGB, HAM RADIO CRASH COURSE)
 

ladn

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There was this,, "stuck in mud in a dangerous area." so i guess not paved
Not necessarily. But, I think your assessment is probably correct.

I did some additional research after my first post last night. I checked the POTA Facebook page for the original message thread, but it's a very active page and I couldn't go back more than about five days. I did find a little more information on the Black Swamp Radio Club's page (Club News | Black Swamp Radio), but not enough for me to get a reasonable idea of where in DV this occurred.

I'm going to reach out to some SAR friends today to see if they can provide more details.
 
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