SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colo. — On Tuesday, San Miguel County sheriff’s deputies rescued a Texas family that was stranded in a remote area of San Juan National Forest.
According to the sheriff’s office, a married couple in their 30s and their 12-year-old daughter were driving a rented truck from El Paso, Texas to Norwood, a small town about 30 miles northwest of Telluride.
About 7 p.m. Monday, dispatchers received a call reporting the family overdue.
Authorities began searching a multi-county area Monday night but were unsuccessful.
About 9 a.m. Tuesday, San Miguel County Undersheriff Eric Berg spotted the rental truck from his personal aircraft.
“A few minutes later the family was spotted a couple of miles from the truck walking towards Dolores on a forest service road near Belmear Mountain, approximately 35 miles south of their destination,” the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies then rescued the family.
The man told deputies he relied on GPS for the fastest route from Durango to Norwood. The truck became stuck in the snow early Monday morning. The family was unable to dig the truck out.
They ran the engine overnight for heat and covered themselves in furniture blankets.
Early Tuesday morning, they wrapped their tennis shoes with shipping plastic and began walking through deep snow.
“The family is lucky to have had moderate temperatures and our ability to use aircraft to locate them. But people need to remember that electronic GPS systems are not always the best guide. At this time of year especially, roads like these are not always passable,” Sheriff Bill Masters said. He also emphasized the importance of traveling with warm clothing as well as extra food and water.
According to the sheriff’s office, the family had been missing for 24 hours.
A number of local and state agencies participated in the search effort.