Travelers warned not to rely only on GPS

Fri May 13, 2011 10:49am EDT
 
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By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Travelers in the western U.S. should not rely solely on technology such as GPS for navigation, authorities said, after a Canadian couple were lost in the Nevada wilderness for 48 days.

Albert Chretien, 59, and his wife Rita Chretien, 56, sought a shorter route between Boise, Idaho and Jackpot, Nevada during a road trip from British Columbia to Las Vegas.

Rita Chretien drank water from a stream and rationed meager supplies until hunters found her on Friday. Albert Chretien has been missing since March 22, when he went to seek help.

The Chretians mapped the route on their hand-held GPS, an electronic device tied to global satellites and commonly used for navigation.

Law enforcement and search and rescue officials said that too many travelers are letting technology lull them into a false sense of security.

"There are times when you need to put the GPS down and look out the window," said Howard Paul, veteran search and rescue official with the Colorado Search and Rescue Board, the volunteer organization that coordinates that state's missions.

Sheriff's offices in remote, high-elevation parts of Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming report the past two years have brought a rise in the number of GPS-guided travelers driving off marked and paved highways and into trouble.

The spike has prompted Death Valley National Park in California to caution on its web site that "GPS navigation to sites to remote locations like Death Valley are notoriously unreliable."   Continued...

 
<p>Canadian couple Albert and Rita Chretien are seen in this Royal Canadian Mounted Police photo released to Reuters on May 7, 2011. Rita Chretien, 56, stranded in a van for seven weeks on a remote dirt road in northern Nevada survived on snow and some trail mix until hunters discovered her, authorities said May 7, 2011. REUTERS/Royal Canadian Mounted Police/Handout</p>