by marlys good
It was Thursday, Feb. 7 and Greybull High School alum Audrey Hunt Schuyler and friends, Rose Ann Austin and Lana McCullar, had nothing on their minds except packing for the cruise they were to take the next day. Closets to rummage through and suitcases to pack.
But the best laid plans went awry when the three Citizen Volunteers with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office were called out about 5 p.m. to help search for a 21-year-old female motorcycle rider from Arkansas, Ally Baum, who left the camping area riding her off-road motorcycle about 9 a.m., ran out of gas and was awaiting rescue.
About 70 fellow motorcyclists, including her boyfriend, had been searching since 9:30 a.m. with no luck and finally called the sheriff’s department at 1 p.m. A deputy responded, talked to her on a cell phone (Ally’s phone was not fully charged). According to the official report, Ally said she “was in a desert area near some railroad racks near a possible mile post marker of 143. The deputy told her to stay put; they would find her. Ally’s phone went dead right after that call.
Aided by maps, they narrowed the search to the west side of Red Mountain Road. The motorcyclists, deputies, Search & Rescue volunteers and a Navy Black Hawk helicopter had been searching the area where they thought she would be over and over again.
Audrey said, “Because they had searched the west side pretty thoroughly, we acted on a hunch (or women’s intuition) and asked if we could search the east side of Red Mountain Road.
“We had our amber lights going, honked the horn as we went and then would stop to listen for her. We stopped to look at some markings in the dirt and were calling her name, when Ally started hollering back, ‘I’m here; don’t leave. I’m here.’
“We followed her voice as she was walking out to meet us.” This was at approximately 9 p.m. The stranded rider was “cold, tired, thirsty and a bit scared.”
Audrey said the day had started out nice, but turned cold and windy. Ally wore boots, pants and a motorcycle jersey and had sought shelter in some rocks to get out of the wind. “We were wearing sweatshirts, coats, gloves and hats and were still cold. We turned the heat up high, gave her our coats and bottled water and radioed to let everyone know we had found her.
“We were all pretty excited to have been the ones to find her and, very tongue in cheek, decided we were ‘sheros.’
“We teased the deputies about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
It was not tongue in cheek when Audrey pointed out the young rider had “done so many things wrong … not riding with a buddy, not having the appropriate gear, not being sure her bike was full of gas, not letting someone know where she was riding, and not having a charged cell phone.”
The three friends went home, packed and “pretty much didn’t sleep because we were so pumped,” Hunt said.
Audrey, who is married to Don Schuyler, is the daughter of Mavis Hunt of Greybull.