Authorities say a police pursuit turned into a rescue mission after two men fled into a wooded area of El Dorado County and later called 911 for help, saying they were freezing.
The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office has identified the men as Triston Crossland, a 30-year-old parolee from Eureka, and Derrick Dionno, a 32-year-old probationer from Hayfork who had four outstanding warrants for his arrest.
The pursuit began after the men decided to run away from their car when it was stopped by a California Department of Fish and Wildlife officer, authorities said.
During the chase, one of the men dropped a firearm, which was picked up by officers, who also found illegal drugs in the vehicle they abandoned.
Crossland and Dionno barreled into the snowy canyon off Highway 50 and crossed the frigid American River to flee from El Dorado County Deputies and California Highway Patrol officers, who quickly joined the search.
According to a news release, a Forest Service officer spotted the men a few hours later. He yelled out a warning to the duo that they were in danger of freezing and should surrender. Dionno and Crossland, however, decided to flee further into the forest area.
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Authorities say Crossland called 911 around 8:40 p.m. Friday, saying they were afraid of freezing to death.
The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office immediately pooled personnel from its SWAT, dive and search-and-rescue teams to find the pair, authorities said.
Authorities canvassed nearly seven miles in the dark, amid freezing temperatures, rocky terrain and driving rain and snow, and stumbled across Crossland and Dionno around 9:20 a.m. Saturday.
This time around, the men, who were suffering from hypothermia and frostbite, voluntarily gave up, authorities said.
Law enforcement officials used a river crossing, which had been built during the night by their El Dorado County Sheriff's Office colleagues, to transport the suspects into an ambulance.
After being treated at a hospital, both men were handed over to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for arrest and prosecution, according to authorities.
"You will never see two men so happy to go to a warm, dry jail cell," the release concluded.