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Fugitives who fled traffic stop call 911 to be rescued from cold temperatures in wilderness

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Two men who evaded authorities by fleeing into a wooded area of El Dorado County on Friday are in custody after calling 911 for help, saying they were freezing amid brutal outdoor conditions.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office identified the men as Triston Crossland, a 30-year-old parolee from Eureka, and Derrick Dionno, a 32-year-old probationer from Hayfork. Dion had four active warrants for his arrest, officials said.

The pursuit began Friday morning when El Dorado deputies and officers with the California Highway Patrol officers and U.S. Forest Service responded to Wrights Lake Road and Highway 50 to assist a California Department of Fish and Wildlife officer who had stopped a vehicle from which two occupants fled.

The state officer said the men ran into a snowy canyon and crossed the frigid American River. During the foot chase, officials said, a firearm was dropped by one of the men, and a search of the abandoned vehicle turned up illegal drugs.

A few hours later, officials said the two men were spotted by a Forest Service officer, and despite shouted pleas from the officer that a storm was coming and they were in danger of freezing, the men again fled back across the river, eluding capture.

At 8:40 p.m. Friday, Crossland called 911 and reported that he and Dion were “freezing to death and in fear of dying,” according to James Byers with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Byers said that prompted the Sheriff’s Office to launch a search-and-rescue effort involving multiple agencies. Byers said the team crossed 7 miles of rocky, wooded terrain in rain and snow in the dark, eventually reaching Crossland and Dionno at 9:17 a.m. Saturday.

Officials said both men were suffering from severe hypothermia and probable frostbite. They were evacuated via a river crossing and taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Crossland and Dionno have been turned over to state Fish and Wildlife officers and face charges.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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