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As It Was: Snow Melt Uncovers Two Bodies at Crater Lake Park

In November 1933, Doris Sparks and Andrea Mardelle stepped into their car in Spokane, planning to drive all night to Klamath Falls to meet up with Doris’ fiancé.  The two cosmetics demonstrators were never heard from again.

Their disappearance made national headlines and fears they had been abducted and murdered somewhere along the way. Then a gas station attendant in Crescent, Ore., reported that the women had stopped to ask about road conditions in Crater Lake National Park.  The attendant warned them not to go there because of the deep snow.  An air and ground search along their intended route came up empty handed.

It turned out that the women had suffered a tragic car accident, all traces hidden by the blanket of winter snow.  In mid-April during the spring thaw, a snowmobile operator discovered a broken guard rail on the Sand Creek Canyon road, at that time the east entrance to the park. 

Tire tracks revealed the women had driven around a road closure, skidded off the road while trying to turn around and plunged off a 150-foot cliff to their death, trapping them under the wreckage of their car.

Sources: Crater Lake Institute, edited by Robert Mutch, Crater Lake Institute, www.craterlakeinstitute.com/index-of-general-cultural-history-books/smith-brothers-history-photos-and-posters/smith-brothers-chronological-history-2/smith-brothers-1934/; Girls' Death Plunge Bared By Thaw." The Florence Times, 19 Apr. 1934 [Florence, AL], vol x, #242 ed., p. 6, news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1842&dat=19340420&id=QCQsAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_rkEAAAAIBAJ&pg=858,3699918; "Find A Grave Memorial for Irene Grace Streeter Ross aka Andrea Mardelle." Find A Grave, edited by Dusty Poss, Find A Grave, www.findagrave.com/memorial/130286251.

Valerie Ing was a teenager when she hosted her first music program on the airwaves. As a student at SOU, she was JPR’s Chief Student Announcer and the first volunteer in our newsroom. She's now JPR’s Northern California Program Coordinator, hosting Siskiyou Music Hall from JPR's Redding studio in the Cascade Theatre.