New UCSO All-Terrain vehicle deployed twice on first day - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New UCSO All-Terrain vehicle deployed twice on first day

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PENDLETON, OR - The Umatilla County Sheriff's Office's new ATV was deployed twice on its first day on the job.

On February 28, the Umatilla County 911 Center got a call that there was an aircraft that crashed in the mountains east of Milton-Freewater. UCSO deputies immediately made their way towards the location of the crash, hoping to find the pilot and passenger who reported that they were hiking away from the wreckage. 

Thinking they could use the new All-Terrain vehicle for a rescue like this, Emergency Manager Tom Roberts called Morrow County Grain Growers and asked them to quickly get the ATV ready. They said it would be fueled and ready when he arrived.

While Roberts picked up the ATV and drove to the scene, members of the Search and Rescue Team found the pilot and passenger in the Government Camp area. They were cold and wet, but uninjured.

But before crews were able to return from the plane crash incident, they were called to assist the Umatilla Tribal Police Department to search for a possible suicidal man who was on foot in the snow in the Poverty Flats area outside Pendleton. Searchers found the man and drove him to safely in the ATV.

"Within the first few hours of having this type of vehicle, we've already demonstrated its value to the Sheriff's Office," said Jim Littlefield, Umatilla County Undersheriff. "While the vehicle's primary mission will be for snow patrol use, it also has the capacity to be used in many other situation and can help us save lives."

"The potential for the use of this type of equipment in emergency response is huge, and Umatilla County has had a need for units like this before," said Roberts. "In 2012, a tracked ATV was deployed from Walla Walla County to I-84 near Deadman Pass for a tour bus that crashed and rolled down a ravine with 44 individuals on board. For incidents like that and others, it will be nice to have this capacity at UCSO."