Rescue team happened to be performing drill as they save 10-year-old girl from snowhole fall

The Marin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team was in the right place at the right time over the weekend when a 10-year-old girl got in trouble. Samantha Whites, of Folsom, was snowshoeing with her family in the Sierra north of the Donner Pass when she fell into a snow hole.

The rescue team happened to be training off of Interstate- 80 near Boreal on Sunday. They had climbed Castle Peak and were heading back to camp when they found someone in dire need of help.

At a news conference at Sheriff’s headquarters in San Rafael on Monday, the team said once they found the family in distress, they identified themselves and quickly determined that while the family had been snowshoeing,10-year-old Samantha had fallen through the snow into a chasm below.

Her family had tried to pull her to safety, but they realized they couldn’t because the hole was too small and there was a danger of the snow collapsing in on the girl.

The team had to rig a special rope system to get ‘Sammy’ out.

The team arrived just in time, as hypothermia was starting to set in for the 10-year-old girl.

Despite not having all their gear, the team and Sammy’s father and the rest of her family were both grateful for the perfect timing.

“We had to be very improvisational. We used all three 50-foot ropes. Samantha was down this hole, she was crying and scared,” said one of the rescue members.

The team identified themselves to the father as a “mountain rescue team” and that they could help. The father seemed confused at the miracle of 14 members of a rescue team showing up the instant his little girl fell into the cold crevasse. It was a tearful and emotional rescue for everyone involved according to the rescue team.

Aside from being cold and wet, Samantha was okay. They changed her into dry clothes and got her hiking to warm up. KTVU’s John Sasaki spoke to Samantha’s mother by phone. She’s said to be doing much better.