Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 4, 2000

Unwise travelers in Meeker County may pay for winter rescue

By Lynda Jensen

Unwise travel during a winter storm could hit drivers' pocketbooks in Meeker County.

The Meeker County Sheriff's Office announced this week that rescues of travelers "who should have had reasonable knowledge or reason to anticipate their danger," but decided to travel during winter storms anyway, may be required to pay the full cost of rescue and recovery.

This hasn't been an issue so far and doesn't apply in Wright County, said Wright County Sheriff Gary Miller.

The last time that the Wright County Sheriff's Office had to make serious search and rescue operations was during the Super Bowl blizzard of 1975, Miller said.

Since Wright County serves 13 cities inside the county for law enforcement, it has several four-wheel drive vehicles in its fleet and is fairly well prepared, Miller said.

Nevertheless, unwise travelers in Meeker County may find themselves paying for hefty costs including wages, hourly cost of rescue vehicles and equipment, towing charges, damage to public equipment and other costs that may be incurred during the rescue operation, according to the sheriff's office.

The county winter rescue ordinance has been in effect for more than five years, but no one has been charged to date for rescue efforts, Hirman said.

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