RENO, Nev. — Two adults and four children who were stranded in sub-zero temperatures in a Nevada mountain range for nearly 48 hours were found alive and well on Tuesday by search crews, authorities said.
The discovery came after a cellphone forensics team picked up a signal from the missing woman’s phone and diverted rescuers to the area.
A searcher with binoculars spotted the group’s Jeep about the same it was seen by a Civil Air Patrol crews, Civil Air Patrol Col. Tim Hahn said.
A ground team then retrieved the couple and four young members of their families.
Authorities said the Jeep had rolled over but it could not be immediately determined if the engine still worked. However, the group was able to build a fire.
Their decision to stay with the Jeep probably saved their lives, said Paul Burke, search and rescue coordinator who directed the effort Tuesday for the Nevada Department of Public Safety.
“They stayed together and that was the key that allowed them to live through this experience. You don’t see that that often in search and rescue,” said Burke, who has worked search and rescue in Alaska. “They did some pretty unusual things, heating up rocks and things. Staying together, that was a big deal.”
The six people were taken to Pershing General Hospital, where about 100 well-wishers lined the street and broke into cheers and applause when two of the smallest children were taken from an ambulance. Others in the group walked into the hospital on their own.
“The mood where I’m at’s ecstatic,” said Hahn, who commands the Nevada Wing of the patrol, which deployed six planes to search for the group. “We are thrilled beyond words.”
About 200 people had scoured the wilderness from the air and on the ground in search of James Glanton, 34, his girlfriend Christina McIntee, 25, their two children Evan and Chloe Glanton, and Shelby Fitzpatrick and Tate McIntee, a niece and nephew of Christina McIntee. The children ranged in age from 3 to 10.
Officials said the group had gone to the Seven Troughs area on Sunday to play in the snow. Rescuers were dispatched when they didn’t return and at one point saw overnight temperatures in the nearby town of Lovelock dip to 16 degrees below zero.
News of their rescue drew jubilant reactions on social media, including a tweet from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.
“Very glad to hear the missing family in Lovelock has been found and they are safe!” he said. “Thank you to all who worked so tirelessly to find them!”
The Seven Troughs area is named after a series of seven parallel canyons below Seven Trough Peak — elevation 7,474 feet — in the Kamma Mountains stretching north across the Pershing-Humboldt county line.
It’s about 20 miles southeast of Black Rock Desert, where the annual Burning Man counterculture festival is held.
Most of the roads are dirt and more easily traveled by ATVs or other off-road vehicles.
Seven Troughs is a popular area for hunting chukars, a pheasant-sized winter game bird.
“So it’s not the kind of area where there would be nobody around,” Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said. “But most chukar hunters are smart enough not to go out in the weather we have now.”