CNN

After he drove off an embankment and became stranded in a ravine, this man’s dog traveled 4 miles to find help

Jun 11, 2024, 8:03 PM | Updated: 8:10 pm

While travelling along a curve, Brandon Garrett's car crashed, leaving him and his dogs stranded in...

While travelling along a curve, Brandon Garrett's car crashed, leaving him and his dogs stranded in a ravine. (Baker County Sheriff's Department, CNN Newsource)

(Baker County Sheriff's Department, CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — When Troy Millhollin saw his friend Brandon Garrett’s dog Blue come into their camp alone with scratches on his nose, he had a feeling something was wrong.

“When (Blue) showed up without his sister, Nova, I was like, ‘That’s not normal,’” Millhollin told CNN.

Millhollin, 46, and Garrett, 60, had been driving in separate vehicles from Halfway, Oregon, to a camp in the woods the afternoon of June 2. Every summer, the two set up camp there for a couple of days to cut firewood.

Garrett should have been right behind him that day, Millhollin said, but his friend never arrived. While waiting, he realized the scratches on Blue’s nose were actually cuts, and decided to drive back to town to find his friend.

In town, no one had seen or heard from Garrett, Millhollin said. He reached out to other friends in the area who started searching.

By morning, Garrett still hadn’t shown up.

Millhollin then called Garrett’s brother, Tyree Garrett, who also started searching with a friend.

Having grown up in the area, Tyree Garrett remembered there were two places on the creek not visible from the road where a vehicle could have tumbled into.

At the first location he checked on US Forest Service Road 39, he found the pickup truck his brother was driving. But it wasn’t a reassuring sight.

“I could see the injured dogs laying down there and I kept yelling for my brother,” the younger Garrett said. “He wouldn’t answer.”

There was no cell service at the site of the crash, so he had to leave to call for help.

“I thought for sure when I was making the 911 call that I was calling just for a body recovery,” Tyree Garrett told CNN. “So I was pretty heartbroken at the time.”

Later, the family would realize Blue had traveled approximately 4 miles from where he and his owner had crashed to find and alert Millhollin.

‘I was hoping just to survive’

Meanwhile, Brandon Garrett had spent the night in the ravine, hoping help would arrive.

The accident had happened when he started to fall asleep while driving, Garrett told CNN: “I thought I’d make camp and I didn’t. I’d come to taking a bad line on the corner and lost the whole thing and it beat me up pretty good.”

Garrett said he was thrown through the windshield downhill as the truck swerved into the ravine. The truck flipped right next to him. Unable to move much, he leaned against the truck and lost consciousness.

When Garrett came to, it was raining heavily and he was waist deep into the creek, so he crawled back in for some shelter.

“I knew it was going to be touch and go to make it to dawn,” he said.

He didn’t see Blue, but he had his three other dogs to keep him company – but they, too, were injured.

“I was hoping just to survive because it didn’t really look like it at that point. I was in a spot where I couldn’t be seen from the road,” Garrett said.

Just before 9:30 a.m. on June 3, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received Tyree Garrett’s report of the crash, according to a news release. Law enforcement and Baker County Search and Rescue responded to the scene.

When he arrived, Sheriff Travis Ash saw Brandon Garrett’s vehicle tilted on its side in the steep ravine, the release stated. Ash heard Garrett shouting and found him 100 yards from the vehicle with the three other dogs.

Ash provided first aid as the county rescue ropes team prepared to get Garrett. They eventually secured him in a rescue basket, connected it to a highline rope system and pulled him across the ravine. Garrett was later airlifted to a regional hospital, the sheriff’s office said.

Garrett told CNN he sustained a hairline fracture in his foot and some lacerations. He is recovering at home.

Garrett also said he was driving Millhollin’s truck the day of the accident, and now hopes to raise money to replace it for his friend. But Millhollin insists that he rest.

“I’m not worried about the truck. As long as they all were okay. That’s what mattered,” Millhollin said.

Three of Garrett’s dogs – including Blue – are with him as he recovers, but one still isn’t back from the veterinarian.

It was no surprise to those who know Blue – who is part Pitbull, Australian Shepherd and Whippet, among other breeds – that he knew where to go after the accident.

Garrett said he often spends time with the dogs in those woods, and Blue in particular knows the area so well that he can find Garrett in the woods, find his way home or navigate to Millhollin’s house.

“I’ve been around dogs my whole life,” Tyree Garrett said. “They’ve got a great sense of direction and they’re just really savvy creatures.”

Brandon Garrett described his companions as simply, “my best friends.”

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After he drove off an embankment and became stranded in a ravine, this man’s dog traveled 4 miles to find help