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Missing couple found near Foresthill after four-day ordeal in snow

Man who left car to find phone signal to get help has Auburn roots
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A former Auburn resident is recovering from a four-day ordeal after his Porsche became stuck in the snow in a mountainous area east of Foresthill. Mark Schroeder, 55, hiked six miles uphill in the snow Wednesday to gain cell-phone reception and make a call for help after spending three cold nights trapped in the Sierra Nevada. Schroeder had left Janette DeGrace, 52, at the car, where they had rationed Girl Scout cookies and other snacks and preserved half a tank of gas to keep the heater functioning. Schroeder’s mother – longtime Auburn resident Jean Schroeder – said that DeGrace suffered from a medical condition that required medication they didn’t have with them in the car. So Mark Schroeder – a Placer High School graduate who Jean Schroeder said is outdoors-oriented – took off for higher ground to get a signal on his phone and call for help. The signal went through and the two – who got stuck in the snow near French Meadows Reservoir on Sunday – were rescued by California Highway Patrol helicopter late Wednesday. “Thank God for cell phones,” Jean Schroeder said. Mark Schroeder’s family in Auburn includes sister-in-law Bernie Schroeder, Auburn city public works director. Jean Schroeder said that both her son and DeGrace had not suffered frostbite but were treated for minor exposure at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital. They were taken there after the helicopter landed at Foresthill to transfer them to an ambulance, she said. Search efforts had centered around the wine region of El Dorado County south of Highway 50 after a false report of the couple being seen there. Instead, the two had driven to the isolated Uncle Tom’s Cabin bar on Wentworth Springs Road and then driven on an isolated road and got caught in the snow. “He knows the country,” Jean Schroeder said. “I don’t know why he ended up where he did.” The story has attracted national attention. Jean Schroeder said all the national TV networks had picked up on it and she received a call from someone working on the Anderson Cooper program. They wanted to know what type of Girl Scout cookie the couple had with them, she said. “It was just a miracle,” Schroeder said. “By Wednesday, we thought he was gone for sure.”