Reporting Laura Cole
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Sacramento man and woman missing since Sunday were rescued on Wednesday afternoon after the man hiked several miles in the snow in order to get cell phone reception and called 911.
Mark Schroeder, 55, and his girlfriend, Janette DeGrace, 52, went wine-tasting on Sunday in El Dorado County but hadn’t been seen since. Schroeder hiked six miles in the snow on Wednesday to get a usable cell phone signal and was then spotted by the helicopter.
Schroeder was found near Hell Hole Reservoir in the Sierra mountains west of Lake Tahoe. The helicopter picked him up and then went to DeGrace’s location. His friends Schroeder and DeGrace were running out of food and options when he decided to set out on foot.
“He basically said his last rites to her and he said they were crying it was very emotional, that he said he was going to try and save her,” said friend Jim Jungsten, who organized the search effort by friends and family.
Mark’s Porsche got stuck in the heavy snow Sunday. They survived on very little.
“He had a half a can of peanuts and some Girl Scout cookies,” Jungsten said.
“Two cookies per meal and imagine stretching it out over three days,” friend Jason Woods added. “It’s really remarkable to see how smart he was in the situation that he ended up in.”
With a half a tank of gas, the couple turned the engine on and off over the next few day but Janette has a medical condition and was without her medication.
That’s when Mark knew he had to get help.
“He was kind of afraid to leave her alone, but it got to be such a desperate situation today that he felt like he had to take the chance to get the cell phone to work,” Jungsten said.
Mark hiked six miles across mountains. His cell phone battery nearly dead. He finally found service and called 911.
“The hard part was Mark knew that if he didn’t make it, that it meant she wasn’t going to make it either,” Woods said.
Mark’s parents thought the worst after three days and no word from their son or his girlfriend. Wednesday night brought a huge sense of relief, but that didn’t stop Mark’s father from parenting.
“I told him I’m very thankful to see you alive,” John Schroeder said he told his son. “I’m going to give you a big hug, but as soon as you are better you are going to get the biggest kick in the ass.”