Tales from the Southwest’s winter storm: 2 rescues, 1 new baby


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Arizona State University student Lauren Elizabeth Weinberg has given everyone a new excuse to stash candy in the car: Weinberg survived nine days in a snowbound vehicle with only two candy bars and melted snow for sustenance.

The 23-year-old was rescued Wednesday morning from her car, according to media reports, in a remote area of Arizona by U.S. Forest Service workers who happened to spot the vehicle as they were checking road closure gates.


She had taken a driving tour Dec. 12 and wound up on a dirt road in the state’s high country. It was the same day that a strong winter storm hit parts of Arizona, bringing rain and snow.

Stuck in her car, Weinberg put snow in a water bottle to melt and dined on the candy. She survived her ordeal in good condition, according to an Associated Press report. On Thursday, Weinberg was released from Flagstaff Medical Center.

‘I am so thankful to be alive and warm,’ Weinberg said in a statement.

Also thankful is the Higgins family of Texas and the parents of 2-day-old Joanna Mallory LeFevre.

The two families had very different adventures amid the powerful winter storm that moved across the Southwest and over the Great Plains on Tuesday.

David and Yvonne Higgins and 5-year-old Hannah were huddled together for warmth on Tuesday when rescuers pulled them from their SUV, which was buried under as much as 4 feet of ice and snow in New Mexico.


Their car had become stuck amid blizzard conditions Monday as they were on their way to go skiing, says the Associated Press. They had just crossed the state line into New Mexico. David Higgins slowed to 5 mph as he struggled to see the yellow line. That disappeared from sight as the snow became blinding, and then the car’s snow tires were unable to grip the road.

The car slid down an embankment, where the snow built up as the family waited for help, eventually blocking the doors and burying the vehicle.

But unlike Weinberg, the Higgins family had a working cellphone. Higgins reportedly called his brother in Texas and gave his general location. That call was relayed to state police, and a search was launched for the family Tuesday evening.

Once rescuers broke through the car windows and hauled them to safety, the Higgins trio looked into the ‘rabbit hole’ from which they had emerged.

‘We were 3 to 4 feet above the vehicle,’ David Higgins told the AP.

Meanwhile, also in New Mexico, the LeFevre family was headed to the hospital on Tuesday -- Russell, Elizabeth and 3-year-old Renee -- as Elizabeth started going into labor, according to

About two miles down the icy highway, Elizabeth said she informed her husband and brother-in-law, Neil LeFevre, who was driving, that she wasn’t going to make it to the hospital.

Russell then got to use his new skills as a nurse -- he graduated in early November -- to deliver daughter Joanna Mallory in the vehicle’s front seat. The car was still hurtling along the Old Las Vegas Highway in the snowstorm at the time, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Despite his medical training, the new father said he was ‘totally unprepared.’


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