GPS almost kills five people in Oregon

The invention of the dashboard-mounted GPS unit has been a lifesaver for many of the navigationally-challenged among us. But it’s also, well, almost killed people who rely on it blindly.

About a week ago, a Nevada couple got stuck for three days when their GPS device led them down a snowy, remote road in eastern Oregon. John Rhoads and his wife were trying to drive from Portland to Reno when their GPS told them to turn onto Forest Service Road 28 in Oregon. They followed it for 35 miles before their vehicle became lodged in the snow.

About 2 1/2 days later, their cell phone acquired a weak signal and they were able to call for rescue.

The lone bit of comic relief in the story, as Mike Munger points out, is the name of the driver’s wife: Starry Bush-Rhoads. “No, really,” Munger writes. “They got lost for three nights in the mountains on bush roads, and her name is….well, you see my point.”

The day before the Rhoads became stranded, another couple and their child were also driving in Oregon when their GPS led them astray. According to Yahoo News, “They had no cell phone service and ran short on formula for their 11-month-old daughter. After taking exploratory hikes, trying to dig out and spending the night in their car, the distraught couple filmed a goodbye video.”


Thankfully the couple was rescued after two days.

People, do not follow your GPS blindly! Always keep a paper map in your car. And don’t forget this important advice from Marie Dodds, a AAA spokesperson: “If you are following your GPS and all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with snow all around, don’t go there. Turn around.”

More from Gadling’s Kraig Becker on the limits of GPS here.