TAHOE CITY, Calif. — It started as a typical drive home along mountain roads in the Sierra, but in an instant everything changed for David Ortiz.
"First there was a bit of panic," Ortiz said.
Ortiz said he and his roommate, Neale, were on Highway 89 near Alpine Meadows Road overnight when they felt a gust of wind, then were buried in more than 6 feet of snow.
"There was no light coming through any of the windows, we knew it was an avalanche," Ortiz said.
The locals knew what to do.
"Once I got on the phone with 911, I knew there was fire and rescue coming out to get me, then we could relax a little bit and try to keep cheerful," Ortiz said.
That's when they started taking selfies. Bundled in a blanket, they had some fun as they waited.
"Worrying wasn't gonna get us rescued," Ortiz said.
Rescuers said the men were trapped for about 30 minutes.
"We got there, shoveled out one of the doors, opened it up and out popped two happy, young men that were pretty stoked to not be in their car anymore," said Dustin Hollingsworth, firefighter paramedic with the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.
Hours later, Ortiz is still smiling, with barely a scratch on his body or his car. He knows things could have ended much differently.
"We couldn't be luckier. If we had been five seconds further or behind we could have been in the river or our car could have flipped over," Ortiz said.
They had luck plus survival skills and supplies and now have an incredible story to tell.
"Everyone got their big story, all the old times, 'back in '82 when the big avalanche happened...' Well, this is my '17 story for sure," Ortiz said.