‘Griswold’ family’s Christmas tree search ends in dramatic rescue

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A Washington family was ridiculed after driving into the forest in severe weather to look for a Christmas tree, prompting a dangerous search-and-rescue effort.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police on Friday titled its news release, “Griswold Family Rescue.”

The reference to “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” a 1989 comedy film starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, might be understandable to some.

The unidentified family ventured into the Blue Mountains despite a weather forecast calling for up to 18 inches of snow. A prominent road closure sign was ignored. The family did not pack suitable clothing or tire chains.

The Asotin County Sheriff’s Office received the emergency call Saturday evening and requested assistance from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The WDWF’s “Sergeant Mosman” led a rescue operation that involved volunteers and the use of snowmobiles.

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“They were able to use WDFW snowmobiles to locate the vehicle containing the family of five, along with their large dog,” the WDFW stated. “They also found another family member and his truck buried in a drift, about halfway to the location who had attempted to rescue them as well but had gotten stuck.

“They spent about two and half hours shuttling the family out of the area in whiteout conditions.”

All ended well, except that both vehicles had to be left behind, perhaps until spring, and the frightened dog peed on Sergeant Mosman’s lap during the snowmobile ride.

The news release was posted to Facebook, where most comments were mostly congratulatory toward the agency, although not everybody appreciated the Griswold analogy.