Father, son share warning after being second group rescued from Utah County trail

Mar 14, 2024, 11:14 AM

UTAH COUNTY — An Orem father and son who were trapped for hours on a Utah County mountain trail last weekend are sharing a life-saving message for others, especially because they were the second group to be rescued from the same area in one day.

The search and rescue person who responded even had to call for extra help to get down the mountain.

Last Sunday, Trevor Nicolson took his 10-year-old son Colton along with two friends for a scenic afternoon ride in his side-by-side. Nicolson took a video that shows them on Lake Mountain, overlooking Utah Lake as his friends take a selfie.

He said it was a beautiful, sunny and warm day. The trails were clear with most of the snow melted in the 60-degree temps.

But as they drove along one of the routes, they came across a couple of snowbanks. He could see deep ruts of recent tire tracks, and the path had clearly been driven on.

However, the snow proved to be too deep for his side-by-side.

“We started getting stuck a few times and I was able to back up and get out of it, and go down a different slope,” Nicolson explained. “And then yeah, we just kind of got trapped in it.”

Nicolson’s next video shows the side-by-side stuck and unable to continue on. At first, he reached out to friends to come tow him out of the snow patch. But they got stuck trying to get up the mountain.

“He got his Bronco stuck,” Nicolson said, of one friend. “Jeremy got his side-by-side stuck. His friend got a Jeep stuck. There was multiple things going on, while we were sitting ducks on top of the mountain.”

His friends all made it back down the mountain. Nicolson ended up calling 911 and found out help wouldn’t arrive until after sundown.

He said it started to get cold, and they weren’t dressed for the snow.

The group of four tried to stay optimistic, but they got nervous.

“We were watching the fuel level go down because the way we were staying warm was leaving the side-by-side on,” he said.

As they tried not to freeze, Sgt. Doug Howell with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office began his trek up the mountain for the second time that day.

“That was in virtually the same area, within 300 yards, another vehicle had done the same thing,” he explained, of the call he had taken just hours before.

Howell, who supervises the search and rescue team, rescued a different father and son who originally became stuck in the snow the day before in their pickup truck.

“They ended up spending the night there in their vehicle, to see if conditions would change during the night,” he said.

While Howell was able to get the first father and son off the mountain, when he responded to rescue Trevor’s group, the search-and-rescue team’s side-by-side broke down.

He called the Utah Department of Public Safety and its helicopter swooped in around midnight to save the now five people stranded on the mountain.

Everyone finally made it to safety around 1 a.m.

After the back-to-back incidents in the same spot, Howell is sharing a warning for others to be careful on offroad trails this time of year.

“It’s still winter in the mountains,” he said. “And even when it looks dry underneath, those roads are still wet and soft and it’s easy to get stuck.”

Nicolson called his experience a “wake-up call,” and is sharing his warning, too — always go with a group of friends and other vehicles, he said, and dress for weather conditions.

“Stay prepared. Make sure that you bring an emergency bag, emergency kit, food, water, extra clothes, blankets,” Nicolson listed off.

His side-by-side is still stuck on the mountain, as is the pickup truck left by the other father and son. Nicolson will now need to wait until the snow has melted before venturing back up to get it out.

And this time he plans to be prepared, knowing things can take a turn even on a short afternoon ride.

“Spring is trying to come in,” he said. “And winter’s saying, ‘We’re not done yet.'”

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Father, son share warning after being second group rescued from Utah County trail