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State police: Don't trust GPS for detours around Hwy 22 closure

Fuel truck crashes on icy Oregon highway, killing driver and setting brush on fire

DETROIT, Ore. - One driver got stuck in the snow.

Another ran out of gas.

Both were following the advice of their GPS units to take a Forest Service road near Detroit as a detour around a closure on Highway 22, Oregon State Police said.

The highway is closed until further notice.

"OR 22 will remain closed indefinitely because of damage caused by the intense fire and fuel spill from a tanker trailer crash last Friday night," Oregon DOT said in a statement. The crash damaged some 300 feet of roadway.

Motorists have turned to GPS units and smartphones for detours.

"Over the weekend, OSP Dispatch received several calls of motorists attempting to take Highway 22, but being rerouted by their GPS units onto Forest Service roads near Detroit," Oregon State Police said. "One motorist became stuck in the snow and the other ran out of gas. Often these Forest Service Roads are not maintained in the winter and are snow covered. Additionally there is little to no cell coverage in these areas."

Following a navigation program onto a forest road has a tragic precedent in Oregon.

"In 2006, a tragedy occurred in Josephine County, when the James Kim family followed GPS directions into BLM land during winter conditions," Oregon State Police note. "The family became stranded and after two days. James Kim left on foot for help. He was later found deceased due to exposure to the elements. The remaining members of his family were located and rescued."

State police urge motorists to stay on maintained roads and highways.

Motorists should also travel prepared for winter weather and emergencies, state police said.

ODOT recommends essential supplies, including:

  • Working flashlight and extra batteries;
  • Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth;
  • Compass;
  • First Aid Kit;
  • Exterior windshield cleaner;
  • Ice scraper and snow brush;
  • Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container;
  • Scissors and string/cord;
  • Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy;
  • Bottled water;
  • Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack;
  • Shovel;
  • Jumper cables;
  • Tow and tire chains;
  • Bag of salt or cat litter;
  • Tool kit.

Added items for driving long distances in cold, snowy, and icy conditions:

  • Gloves;
  • Socks;
  • Cap;
  • Blankets.
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