ST. GEORGE — A camping trip took several turns for the worse for a pair of campers Tuesday who had reportedly been stranded in deep snow in a remote location near Enterprise for several days. When the 48-year-old man and his 24-year-old girlfriend were located a sheriff’s deputy discovered methamphetamine in the man’s possession and he was arrested.
According to its news release, Washington County Sheriff’s Office was notified around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday that a woman was reportedly stranded in the snow in her vehicle, a 2015 Nissan Titan pickup, a mile south of Enterprise on national forest land. The report indicated she had possibly been stranded since Friday and had left her vehicle to walk towards Enterprise.
In the call for assistance, the woman said she was not dressed properly for the deep snow and cold weather conditions, according to the news release. She said she did not have a jacket, was wearing cowboy boots and was waist-deep in snow.
While attempting to locate the woman, sheriff’s deputies learned she was not alone but was with her boyfriend, later identified as Catalin Moroianu of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Washington County Sheriff’s deputies and search and rescue team, approximately 12 members of Enterprise Fire and EMS departments and Intermountain Healthcare’s Life Flight helicopter joined in the attempt to locate the couple. Due to deep snow, the team utilized a snowcat as well in their search.
Enterprise Fire Chief Brenden Moody said they made phone contact with the couple.
“They were going camping,” he said. “I think they were prepared for a little bit of weather, they had food and water.”
The two then tried to hike out Tuesday morning, Moody said. Faced with quite a distance and as much as 4 feet of snow, they decided to return to their truck.
“Our biggest worry was obviously … we got this big snowstorm and they were out in the middle of it,” he said. “Just getting to them was a chore. That was tough to do.”
Temperatures overnight dropped below zero, the fire chief said.
Rescuers and a sheriff’s deputy located the vehicle shortly after noon with the pair partially dressed inside. According to the news release, a sock was knocked out of the Nissan as the woman and Moroianu were dressing. The deputy picked up the sock and noticed it contained a pipe with what the he suspected was methamphetamine residue.
According to the news release, Moroianu initially gave the deputy false information before admitting to having a handgun in the vehicle. He was then arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a weapon by a restricted person.
The two were transported to an incident staging area where they were assessed and cleared by medical personnel.
According to the news release, the woman disclosed in a later interview that she and Moroianu had engaged in a domestic dispute while stranded. This led to an additional charge of simple assault domestic violence against Moroianu.
The truck was left where it was until its owner can arrange for its removal.
Authorities are not releasing the name of the woman involved in this incident because she is an alleged victim of domestic violence.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
- Information on surviving snowy conditions in a vehicle and how to build a safety kit.
- NOAA’s winter storm survival kit for travelers
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