By Michelle McNiel and Dee Riggs, The Wenatchee World
CASHMERE —Two men who were reported overdue from a drive up Derby Canyon near Peshastin were found dead Thursday near the vehicle they were riding in.
Ronald Schober, 50, of Peshastin, and Douglas L. Strader, 68, of Milton, died when their Jeep Rubicon slid over a 75-yard embankment, according to a news release from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office. The two men were reported overdue Wednesday night when they failed to return home.
It is unlikely either was wearing a seat belt, said Sgt. Kent Sisson, because the seat belts were fastened behind the seats. That, he said, is a common way to fasten seatbelts if a person does not want to wear them and wants to keep the warning alarm from sounding.
Authorities said Schober told family members that he was going for a drive into Derby Canyon around 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Sisson said Schober “had a history of wanting to go out on those roads and see how far he could get.” The Jeep was found about three miles up a Forest Service road from the end of the pavement.
He and Strader, who has been living in Peshastin, were seen leaving in Schober’s Jeep. Search-and-rescue crews went out looking for the two men Thursday morning. Just after 10 a.m., searchers on snowmobiles located the vehicle about 75 yards down an embankment off a Forest Service road. Both men, who were found outside the Jeep, were dead at the scene.
A sheriff’s news release stated that snow on roads in the Derby Canyon area was more than 2 feet deep in places. The Jeep’s tracks were also covered by about an inch of new snow.
It appears Schober lost traction while driving up a slope on the road in deep, wet snow, according to the press release. The vehicle slid backward over the embankment, rolling over and coming to rest on its wheels.
Sisson warned outdoor enthusiasts that snow conditions in the backcountry are dangerous right now. He said Forest Service roads are best accessed by snowmobile, but warned that snowmobilers need to be aware that avalanche danger is high.