LAS VEGAS — Veterans of Lovelock, an isolated northwestern Nevada town with just one stoplight, know all about the lethal one-two punch of bitter-cold weather and the bleak, inhospitable Kamma Mountains that surround them. The 2,000 residents also revel in their sense of neighborliness.
Those factors came together Tuesday as scores of community members put chores aside to join a search that ended in the dramatic rescue of a young family that folks here consider one of their own — two adults and four small children on a weekend outing who vanished in subzero weather.
The group was found at 11:30 a.m., six miles outside town. James Glanton, 34, his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, 25, their two children and a niece and nephew, ages 3 to 10, were standing near their overturned silver Jeep, which they had climbed into 48 hours earlier to tour a series of nearby canyons.
Searchers picked up a signal from McIntee’s cellphone Tuesday morning and rushed teams to the area. One rescuer using binoculars spotted the group’s Jeep just as the vehicle was seen by an air crew. “They’re alive and well and being transported to the hospital for treatment,” said Pershing County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Blondheim.
Joining search teams were 100 residents, many of whom skipped work to take part in the frantic scramble to find the missing group. Residents knew the odds were bad: Temperatures had hit minus-21 in town Sunday night, and people worried that the young children might not survive.
But they did.
Kim Lawrence, manager of the Safeway where the father of one of the rescued children worked, hooted a cry of happiness. “They’re on their way to the hospital!” she said. “The entire community has rallied around this family, so this is just a huge relief.”
Steve Evenson, a volunteer at Pershing County’s emergency command center, said none of the group members had frostbite. “They were found at their vehicle that rolled over on its top,” he said.
“To stay warm, they lit some fires and took care of business. It’s amazing they’re alive because I hear that temperatures hit 24 below in the mountains last night. It’s a miracle, really.”
Evenson said he had joined his neighbors Monday in the search.
“Nobody was on foot because the area was far too remote,” he said. “Every motorized transport other than a boat was used. We didn’t give up. And we found them.”
Lovelock, the site of a medium-security men’s prison and Cold War-era gunnery range, was once a stopover for California-bound settlers and became a train depot when the transcontinental railroad was built. It has also considered itself the friendliest little town in the middle of nowhere.
Glanton and his family were visiting the Seven Troughs area, named for a series of canyons below Seven Trough Peak in the Kamma Mountains stretching north across the Pershing-Humboldt county line. It’s about 20 miles northwest of where Lovelock sits on Interstate 80 and about 20 miles southeast of the Black Rock Desert, where the annual Burning Man festival is held.
The search began Sunday evening. Rescuers included a Navy search-and-rescue team and the Civil Air Patrol, an all-volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, along with sheriff’s deputies.
But Lovelock residents are most proud of their own role.
“That’s what this town does,” said Sheila Reitz, Pershing County dispatch supervisor. “People were taking time off from work. That couple has been here forever. Everybody’s known them since they were kids.”
Lawrence, the Safeway manager, said all of Lovelock willed the group’s rescue. “We’re like any small town. Most people have grown up here all their lives. We knew this couple always went out with their kids. We knew they were a tight family and would not separate.”
Former Lovelock Mayor Hugh Montrose said the episode ended better than one 15 years ago when a young woman froze to death in her disabled car outside town.
“It was the same kind of weather,” he said. “The dangers out there are less evident to young people. You get a little older, you become more respectful of what can go wrong out there.”
Glionna reported from Las Vegas and Muskal from Los Angeles.