Near Mount Rose, NV - When the Washoe County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue RAVEN helicopter took off in search of five missing people on Monday, the pilot knew it wasn't going to be easy to get to them.
"It can be pretty intimidating to find two different parties," says Deputy Doug Russell, Chief Pilot for the WCSO RAVEN Program. "Completely removed from each other in that terrain; it's very tough terrain."
The search started around 3:30pm on Monday when the skiers and snowboarders reported themselves missing. There were two separate groups: a group of three that got lost in the Valley and a pair of snowboarders that got lost in Sheeps Flat. In both cases, the parties had started skiing and riding at Mount Rose Ski Resort and traveled out of bounds.
"They called for help because they weren't really sure where they were or how to get out of the locations they were in. There was a lot of snow," says Sgt. Ralph Caldwell, of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
Search and rescue volunteers hit the ground and once they were able to find the first group of three, the RAVEN helicopter brought them in and dropped them off at Mount Rose Ski Resort on the slide side.
The second rescue was more difficult. It happened just minutes later in Sheeps Flat.
"The snowmobilers that were operating the area, it took them over an hour to get out there on snowmobiles," says Dep. Russell. "So these two lone guys hiking out, it probably wouldn't have happened."
But once they were all brought back to safety, even more comfort - learning they won't have to pay for the rescue.
"All search and rescue is already paid for by the taxpayers. It's one of the requirements for the Sheriff to provide search and rescue capabilities by Nevada Revised Statute. So this is a requirement for the Sheriff to provide this service. So that's what we do," says Deputy Russell.
None of the five people who were rescued were hurt.
They will also not be charged with a crime. Sgt. Ralph Caldwell says it is not illegal in Washoe County to ski out of bounds in the county.