Utah family stranded while cutting Christmas tree rescued by strangers

Nov 28, 2023, 7:49 AM

GRANTSVILLE — A family is thanking the good Samaritans who rescued them in the mountains after the family became stranded while looking for a Christmas tree. The family had gone up a 4×4 road into the Stansbury Mountains west of Grantsville.

Complete strangers who heard about the family’s desperate situation worked to track them down in the hills and help them out.

On Sunday morning, Ricky Poarch and his son’s family took off for a fun family excursion with Bureau of Land Management permits in hand to find and cut down two Christmas trees — one for Poarch and his wife, and the other for his son and grandkids.

Poarch enjoyed the experience of getting out in the snowy woods.

“I think it was great to get out with my son, walking around like we did, and my daughter-in-law and my grandkids,” he said.

The family had driven up in two different trucks past a popular shooting area and a few miles up a narrow 4×4 road to a pre-picked spot to look for trees.

Just after 1 p.m., with two trees in tow, they got ready to head back down toward home.

“When I started going, I just kind of started going sideways instead of forward,” Poarch recounted. He said the snow had melted under his warm truck, then refroze. His truck slipped off the road, and he wasn’t able to back up. “And before I knew it, I was just kind of off the side of the road and up against a great big boulder. Couldn’t go nowhere.”

His son Jeremy and daughter-in-law Sadie Poarch were in their truck behind Ricky Poarch, with their two children and one of their nieces. They couldn’t get around Ricky Poarch on the narrow road.

They too, became stranded.

“I had my phone like, where am I?” Sadie Poarch said. She got out and had to walk up the hill to get a call through to her sister-in-law Miranda Poarch, while the men began to use a shovel to try to dig around Ricky’s truck.

They had an emergency kit, shovel, and other supplies, but didn’t have a winch or strap.

“Find someone, like we need help!” Sadie Poarch told Miranda. “We’re stuck, here’s our coordinates. Like, please send help.”

Miranda Poarch, whose daughter was up there with them, said she began to panic.

She posted in the Tooele County 411 Facebook group to see if anyone could make the rescue.

“Within minutes, I had people commenting and asking where they were,” Miranda Poarch said. “And so I started messaging people, telling them, you know, giving them the coordinates of where they were.”

Poarch said her post filled up with around 40 comments of people offering to help.

A few community members experienced in off-road recovery headed up the mountain, determined to find the family.

Meanwhile, daylight was turning to dusk. The family had been stranded for a few hours, and Ricky and Jeremy Poarch were still trying to dig out.

“I was in my truck just like, please, someone send a miracle! Like it’s getting dark. I have three kids with me,” Sadie Poarch said. “Please, someone send a miracle right now.”

Right on cue, a miracle did arrive in the form of a few Jeeps, part of the same crew. They rolled up with winches and tow straps, ready to get Ricky Poarch’s truck unstuck.

Ricky and Sadie Poarch said they each breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“I haven’t felt that kind of relief for a while. It was really relieving,” Ricky Poarch expressed.

After looping a strap around a tree, they used their winches to wiggle Poarch’s truck back onto the road.

“I was just in tears of gratitude,” Sadie Poarch said. “And we tried to think of them. We tried to give them money, we tried to get them soda or a case of beer, do something, you know, like let us thank you.”

She explained that the humble group wouldn’t accept anything in return.

Miranda Poarch was able to post the happy update that her family was rescued and back home for the night.

“Everyone was just asking for updates, if they got out, if they still needed help,” she said. “It was very reassuring.”

The family made it down just as it was getting dark, thankful for the group who came to save them, and for the Tooele community for coming together to make sure they were safe.

“You just can’t say thank you enough,” Ricky Poarch said. “You really can’t.”

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Utah family stranded while cutting Christmas tree rescued by strangers