South Lake Tahoe resident saved by 9-year-old son
South Lake Tahoe resident John Taylor laid next to his wrecked snowmobile Sunday while his 9-year-old son, Bode Beirdneau, dug him out of the deep snow in the Blue Lakes area of Alpine County.
The lower half of Taylor’s body was trapped under the snowmobile after it struck a tree at speeds of at least 30 mph. Taylor said the gas had gotten stuck, and he tried jumping off seconds before the collision. However, momentum threw him back into the snowmobile, sucking him into the tracks and snapping his femur.
“Basically I was thinking that I’m in a bad situation right here and I don’t know how bad I’m hurt, but I’m definitely hurt bad,” he said, while recovering at home Thursday just four days after being rescued by his son. “Yeah, I thought I might die. Because I couldn’t tell my injuries at that point, and I didn’t know I could even get out.”
Bode, a Marin County resident who was riding his own snowmobile, freed his dad quickly before preparing to find help. But after riding in the county’s backcountry that afternoon, the two had wound up a ways from any roads or people.
With few options, Taylor told his son to go east until he hit Blue Lakes Road.
“I go, ‘you’ll make the road. All you have to do is make it through these trees,” Taylor said. “’You know how to do it.’”
Before Bode could set out, though, he had to restart his snowmobile by tugging the starter chord. Taylor usually did this for his son because the chord can be difficult to pull. But Bode, without his dad’s assistance, “gathered his strength” and started the vehicle for what was probably the first time, according to his father.
The boy took off and quickly found the road, and he followed it toward Highway 88.
“My dad told me to go back to the road and go find help,” Bode told the Marin Independent Journal. “I freaked out because I didn’t know where to go.”
He eventually spotted an employee with Lake Tahoe Adventures — a company that offers snowmobile tours — about six or seven miles later. The employee immediately radioed for help, and Bode led emergency responders back to his dad.
Taylor, who was “in a decent amount of pain,” was then tended to by emergency personnel and flown out of the area. He was treated for his injuries at Barton Memorial Hospital.
On Thursday, Taylor said he’s grateful to be alive and called his son “my hero”.
“He is just very composed and mature for his age, and he stepped up without panicking and did what was necessary to save me,” he said. “And I’m super proud of him.”