TRUCKEE (CBS13) — Over the past four decades, volunteers with Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue have rescued hundreds of people lost in the Sierra backcountry, and it all began with the search for a 12-year-old boy who wasn’t discovered in time.
Lance Sevison became lost in a blizzard on the back side of Northstar-at-Tahoe in 1974 at a time when there was no organized search and rescue team available to try to find him.
“We really didn’t have a clear picture on how to search or what we were doing,” said Doug Read, a friend of the Sevison family who joined Lance’s father, Larry, in the desperate search to find the boy. “People did the best they could but it just wasn’t good enough.”
Two years later, Read and Sevison co-founded Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue and taught themselves and other team members the proper way to conduct a backcountry search.
“If we knew what we were doing back then we would have found (Lance),” he said.
Read estimates at least 80 percent of their searches end happily, as was the case three weeks ago when the team tracked a snowboarder overnight for eight miles after he became disoriented at Alpine Meadows.
Team member Andrew Oesterreicher said they finally caught up to the missing man at 2 a.m. and found him wearing nothing more substantial than a flannel shirt.
“It’s usually just elation. They’re usually cold tired, hungry, thirsty. They want to be anywhere else than where they’re at,” Oesterreicher said.
The major source of funding for the non-profit search and rescue team comes from the annual Great Ski Race from Tahoe City to Truckee, which takes place this year on Sunday, Mar. 3.