Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 10, 2014

Sheriff: GPS led Canadian duo astray

BELLAIRE — A craving for milkshakes and faulty GPS directions turned a young Canadian duo's late night quest to find a McDonald's restaurant into an overnight misadventure along a Kalkaska back road.

A Windsor, Ont., woman, 18, and her cousin, an 11-year-old boy, left a Deer Path Lane condo Saturday night without a cellphone on the short drive to Bellaire's McDonald's, where they planned to order milkshakes.

They didn't return.

The woman's parents eventually called Antrim County sheriff's deputies, who conducted an unsuccessful overnight search. Sheriff Dan Bean said the parents' hours of worry ended at daybreak when their daughter called from an area business.

"They were quite pleased that their kids were safe," Bean said.

The duo's trek to Kalkaska started when they discovered Bellaire's McDonalds closed earlier than expected. The woman turned to her GPS to find the nearest McDonald's, which turned out to be in Mancelona. That restaurant had already closed, too.

Bean said the GPS then directed the woman down U.S. 131 toward Kalkaska, but she found that a promised McDonald's near Plum Valley Road didn't materialize. He said the woman finally decided to head back to Bellaire, but her GPS device led her onto a Kalkaska County side road and into a snow bank.

The woman and her cousin spent the night in the stuck vehicle. She walked to Flannery Machine in the morning and called her mother.

Bean said the story's positive end just as easily could have turned out to be disastrous. He said motorists should be warned not to trust their GPS devices over their common sense.

"I just think techno is a wonderful thing, but there also needs to be some thought process in how we're using it," he said.

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