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3 teens overdue from camping trip in Jefferson County found safe

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Some anxious moments were had in Jefferson County after three teenage hikers went missing.  Search crews began combing miles of trails early Saturday morning.

The group failed to show up at their designated spot on time Friday afternoon. They had set out on a camping hiking excursion and had been missing for nearly 24 hours.  The search would not be easy.

Deputy Grant McDonald of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said, “Well the first thing is trying to figure out is…did they follow the route that they planned because it’s a vast area and there are a lot of areas where they can get off the trail that they intended?'

The hikers, two 17-year-old girls and a 19-year-old male were supposed return late Friday.

Jefferson and Park County Deputies, a Flight for Life chopper and  Alpine Mountain Rescue members began scouring the Mountains.

Alpine Rescue’s Bruce Beckmann said, “It’s very tough because we’re talking eight or 10 square miles trying to find one or two individuals. We don’t know if they stayed together or if they split apart or if somebody went for help etcetra."

But Saturday afternoon, the chopper found the missing hikers.

The waiting for Claudia Kiousis, whose daughter was missing, was finally over.  Kiousis said she felt, “...Just relief. Absolute relief."

Kiousis says her daughter, Ruth, is an experienced hiker. She believes they may have missed a turn and then made a crucial life-saving decision to stay put.  Weather may have played a role, she says.

We’re told the hikers had all the necessary provisions, including food water, tents and cold weather gear. None of them hurt.

Their families were still a little shaken but just thankful they’re OK.  The three were reunited with their families late Saturday evening.