Mono Sheriff and family help stranded search and rescue volunteers

Mono Undersheriff Ralph Obenberger

Mono Sheriff Ralph Obenberger

Sheriff Ralph Obenberger lends a helping hand to stranded motorists  

(press release from PIO Jennifer Hansen)

On the evening of Friday, January 11, 2013, at approximately 5:00 pm, Sheriff Ralph Obenberger was traveling home to June Lake after work when he noticed a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department vehicle stranded on the northbound lane of Hwy 158. Sheriff Obenberger turned around to see if he could lend any assistance to the stranded vehicle. When Sheriff Obenberger made contact with the vehicle, it was occupied with two female Search and Rescue volunteers from the Montrose Search and Rescue team in town finalizing details for a Mountain Rescue Association training to be held in March for over 300 Search and Rescue volunteers. The volunteers had already checked out of their hotel, hoping to make it back to Southern California that night, when their vehicle just quit on them. Their vehicle became inoperative due to an unknown problem. The volunteers were in contact with their agency watch commander and were trying to figure out how to handle the situation. The volunteers stated that their agency was contemplating sending a tow truck from the Los Angeles area to help them and the volunteers would just need to wait until the tow truck arrived.

The temperature at this time of the evening was in the mid-teens and snowing. Sheriff Obenberger told the volunteers that he would have a local tow company, Lee Vining Shell, tow the vehicle and try to at least determine what the problem was. Sheriff Obenberger didn’t want to leave the volunteers in the cold, snowy conditions, so took the volunteers to his house for a safe, warm place to stay while their vehicle was being inspected. Sheriff Obenberger told the volunteers not to worry and that he would pay for the vehicle tow charges, if necessary, just to avoid any delays in getting the problem solved.

The volunteers stayed with Sheriff Obenberger and his family until the next morning, Saturday, January 12, 2013. The volunteers were taken to their vehicle at Lee Vining Shell where it was ultimately determined that the vehicle could not be repaired due to some major mechanical issues in the engine. Lee Vining Shell safely transported the vehicle and the volunteers back to Southern California. The volunteers were shocked with the hospitality they were shown by Sheriff Obenberger and Lee Vining Shell. “This is just what people in Mono County do … we take care of people and get things done,” said Sheriff Obenberger.

Written and prepared by Jennifer Hansen, Public Information Officer

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19 Responses to Mono Sheriff and family help stranded search and rescue volunteers

  1. Tracey January 24, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Interesting. My husband was stranded about 9 miles north of Bridgeport on Sept 13 2012 with a flat on our travel trailer, without the proper jack to fix it and no cell service. He flagged down not one, but two Mono Co Sheriff vehicles and neither one stopped to see what he needed. A citizen finally came to his aid; he drove to Bridgeport to the Hwy Patrol Office and they said they would sent someone out to help. The citizen then drove back to my husband’s location and let him know that help was on the way. We wrote a letter to the sheriff and never even received an acknowledgement, never mind and explanation. I hope the new Sheriff has instilled a better work ethic in his team than the old one. One can only guess that they were on their way to clock out for the day and couldn’t be bothered. I’m glad it wasn’t a life threatening situation but I’m not sure how the officers that blew by could have known that.

  2. Big Rick OBrien January 18, 2013 at 1:36 am #

    My AAA membership costs me 152.00 a year for 2 adults, and I’ve been a member for 29 years. They pulled me out of a snow-bank in Bodie when the rangers wouldn’t …they towed me from Hawthorne back to Bishop when my transmission failed, they reimbursed me in full (750.00)for the cost of a U-Haul truck to tow my bronco home from Montana when my timing chain broke, and most recently, they towed me from Red Rock Canyon to Huntington Beach in the middle of the night when my alternator failed. These are just a few of my experiences with AAA over the years, and if I would have had to pay (out of pocket) for all the times they saved my butt, it would have been THOUSANDS of dollars. Anyone that drives even HALF as much as I do, would be doing themselves a great dis-service NOT to be an AAA member.
    By the way…the time that I had to be pulled out of a snow bank in Bodie, the AAA driver had to come all the way from Lee Vining when the Bodie Rangers (law enforcement officers) were about 2 minutes away from where I was stuck. Imagine that.

    • Bill D January 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

      Rick, two years ago I got stuck in the snow on the frontage road east of 395 near 203 while parking to walk my dogs in the forest there. Despite being only about 5 miles from their contract facility in Mammoth Lakes, AAA said they could not come help me if I was stuck in the snow. I was prepared to get out myself since I always carry a shovel and chains in the winter but a county employee in a truck stopped to see if I needed help. He pulled me out with a tow chain I also always carry. At the time, I had been a AAA member for 41 years and their indifference kind of pissed me off.

      • Big Rick OBrien January 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

        That’s EXACTLY what the Rangers attitude was with me. The funny thing about me getting stuck out at Bodie,.. as the tow truck driver was pulling away after yanking me out, & almost out of sight, I got stuck again & luckily he glanced in the rear-view mirror and came back. THEN he pulled me all the way down Cottonwood Canyon until it was completely snow-free. Helluva’ nice guy who ran the service station in Lee Vining back in 91′, or 92′.

  3. Roy January 17, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    I would like to add that all search and rescue Deputies with LA. County are reserves that get paid 1.00 a year. The only exception is the Deputies of the Emergency Services Detail as they are part of the Special Enforcement Bureau ( swat team) I spent many years working along side them and they put in hundreds of hours a year for that one dollar…

  4. Trouble January 17, 2013 at 5:43 am #

    Can I suggest a search and rescue check your oil day? 🙂

    • Big AL January 19, 2013 at 1:43 am #

      Yes I agree with Sean F .. Trouble .. lol you always live up to your nick name .. hehe .. I’m not hatin on this story or anyone, but in thinking about the article, not really coming out with what really happened (damage wise), I can see what you’re implying LOL

      Yes I am glad law enforcement checks on people, and other people check on people.

  5. Big AL January 17, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    He would have done it even if they weren’t law enforcement, and I’m sure he didn’t go looking for the advertisement. So why hate on it, Maybe the PIO wanted to bolster public relations .. after all that is what a (Public Information Officer) does. I doubt that the Sheriff told the PIO to do it.

  6. Sean F January 17, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    Rough cynical crowd. Do you think the Sheriff of LA County or any other large county actually stops and checks on people on the 405 freeway?

    I am pleased to know that the Mono Sheriff and his personnel take the time to stop and check on people.

    Did any of you haters stop to think that maybe the PIO put out the story on her own accord based on just hearing about it? Maybe she did. We dont know. And there is nothing wrong with a PIO putting out a press release. That is their job.

    Is there something wrong with telling a story that sets a good example for the community as a whole (ie watching out for each other in a rural area with bad weather rolling in)?? I call the Sheriff’s action leading by example and that is what I expect cops (be it patrol officers or the Chief/Sheriff) to do.

    Come on – I know there are people out there who appreciate this story. Don’t let all the comments be negative. If you think is press release is OK and the Sheriff did a good thing then say so. Don’t let the cynical commenters rule the day (or the blog).

  7. Roy January 16, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    As a retired member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept, I want to thank the citizens of Mono County that provided assistance to members of our dept..Big Rick O;Brian,, Los Angeles County does not belong to or provide AAA service…I’m sure the huge cost of the tow will be reimbursed by LA County..

    • Big Rick OBrien January 17, 2013 at 4:11 am #

      Roy, I know that…but if they would have had their personal triple AAA cards, even though it was a county vehicle, they still would have towed it . (although only 200 miles) In this time of tight budget constraints, it was a very nice gesture for Mono to do a big favor for it’s big brother to the south.

      • Roy January 17, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

        And if they didn’t belong to AAA then there in the same situation needing the people of Mono County to get then out of a jam…

  8. NewDay January 16, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    That’s some excellent self-promotion. Why can’t you just do a nice thing without a press release?

    • Real Deal January 16, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      Excellent point NewDay. People do good deeds every day and never ask for credit. It’s good to be the boss and have a PIO to promote you in the public arena.

    • Roger Rilling January 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      New Day- I read and disagree with your comment as the typical “negative only” news story outlook of both our local newspapers. Yes, most police/fire and other first responders typically state they are “Just Doing Their Job” but I almost never see them receive public credit.
      This may be part of the convenient justification when the statement is made that- they make too much money and enjoy “lavish retirements”- so it is OK to sacrifice them when greed and other poor behavior cause a budget crunch.

  9. Big Rick OBrien January 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Cops helping OTHER cops is an every-day thing. I guess the LASO don’t pay their search & rescue people enough to afford a triple AAA membership. Just sayin’.

    • Smarter than Rick January 21, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      Search and rescue VOLUNTEERS aren’t cops, don’t get paid, and do more than you do to help others.

  10. Sean F January 16, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    Thats some excellent customer service!

  11. Mark January 16, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Two weeks ago we observed while loading our snowmobiles near the punchbowl a Mono County deputy assist some average tourist with getting their vehicle unstuck from the snow. We were going to help the tourist as soon as we secured our load but the deputy beat us to it.

    Yes Ralph rolled out the red carpet, but kudos to the deputy too!


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