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  • 23 Sep 2014

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Tigard man, others trapped in Steens Mountain blizzard

A Tigard man and three other construction workers have been stranded for about 19 hours in a Steens Mountain blizzard in Southeast Oregon, with only their broken-down snowcat for shelter.

The father of one of the men told KOIN Local 6 on Sunday that the four have been stuck in a snow drift since their snowcat broke down Saturday.

"The workers were completing an installation of a cell phone service tower when they were caught in a rapid weather decline — and their snowcat drive failed as they were trying to escape the summit construction site," John Seaver, father of Brian Seaver of Tigard, wrote Sunday in a note to KOIN. "They have the shelter of the snowcat — for now — and a little snack food and water but are very concerned and even scared as they talk out the last precious minutes in their cell phone batteries."

Harney County search and rescue teams were working their way up the mountain for their first rescue attempt. The construction workers are apparently stranded near a summit of Steens Mountain.

John Seaver has been in touch with his son on the mountain. However, he says only about 20 percent power remains on his son's mobile-phone battery. He says the men are in an area that's more than 9,000-feet above sea level. The mountain summits at 9,733 feet. He says the trapped workers have been able to open the door to the snowcat to get fresh air.

"Prospects for rescue are not positive at this point," Seaver wrote Sunday in a note to KOIN. "They spent the night in the snow cat, buried in a snow drift."

Harney County rescuers' initial plans for a Saturday rescue attempt were postponed when the Southeast Oregon mountain became "too treacherous for them to risk lives in the blizzard-like conditions," Seaver wrote.

KOIN Local 6 reporter Jennifer Meacham wrote this news story, with contribution from Adam Amaro.