On the evening of Jan. 11, at about 5 p.m., Sheriff Ralph Obenberger was traveling home to June Lake after work when he noticed a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicle stranded on the northbound lane of Highway 158. Obenberger turned around to see if he could lend any assistance to the stranded vehicle.
Obenberger stopped and spoke to the occupants, who turned out to be two volunteers from the Montrose Search and Rescue team in town finalizing details for a Mountain Rescue Association training to be held in March for more than 300 volunteers.
The two women had already checked out of their hotel, and were hoping to make it back to Southern California that night, when their vehicle quit on them.
They were in contact with their agency watch commander and were trying to figure out what to do. They said that their agency was thinking about sending a tow truck from the Los Angeles area to help them and they would wait until the truck arrived.
Obenberger said the temperature at the time was in the mid-teens, and it was snowing. He had a local company, Lee Vining Shell, tow the vehicle and try to at least determine what the problem was. He didn't want to leave them in the cold, snowy conditions, so he took them to his house to stay while their vehicle was being inspected.
The volunteers stayed with Obenberger and his family until the next morning.
They were taken to their vehicle at Lee Vining Shell where it was ultimately determined that the vehicle could not be repaired due to some major mechanical issues in the engine.
Lee Vining Shell safely transported the vehicle and the volunteers back to Southern California.
The women said they were surprised at the hospitality they were shown in Mono County.
"This is just what people in Mono County do ... we take care of people and get things done," said Obenberger.