Finding all six missing family members who had spent more than two days in the freezing Nevada wilderness alive and healthy Tuesday came as a relief to everyone, but also somewhat of a surprise.
With temperatures as low as minus-16, how did a couple, three toddlers and a 10-year-old survive for 48 hours in the snow?
About noon Sunday, James Glanton, 34, and his girlfriend Chirstina McIntee, 25, their two children and a niece and a nephew left Lovelock, Nev., to play in the snow. Police began searching for them in the evening.
The Jeep they were in had toppled and slid down an embankment on its roof. Since the group hadn’t planned anything more than a day trip, they didn’t have blankets or extra food. And they couldn’t use the car’s engine for warmth because the car had flipped.
The high temperature Sunday in Lovelock was 17 degrees, Alex Hoon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, told the Los Angeles Times. The low that night was minus 16.
After the group was found, officials learned that the couple had started a fire with wood and brush, and managed to keep it going the entire time they were stranded. They removed a spare tire from the car and placed the heated rocks inside it, which they used to keep the children warm at night, according to the Pershing County Sheriff’s Department.
“They did a lot of things right,” Dr. Douglas Vacek of Pershing General Hospital said in an interview with CNN. “We were braced for much worse."
The family also decided not to send someone to go find help, which was a good choice, Vacek said. Frequently, people who leave a stranded group never return.
When a volunteer spotted the group about noon Tuesday, all were “alive and well,” Pershing County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Blondheim said. None had any evidence of frostbite or injuries from the accident.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that the mother and one of the children had been released from the hospital.