How a Couple Survived 5 Days Stranded in the Snow

Their Jeep got stuck, temperatures dipped below freezing
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2019 11:52 AM CST

After a San Francisco couple's first night of snow camping last week, they decided to drive further into California's Mendocino National Forest the next day—and ended up spending five days stranded in their Jeep when the vehicle got stuck in the snow. They couldn't dig it out after trying for seven hours Thursday, and there was no cellphone service, so Maia Herman-Kitami, 18—who is an experienced camper but had never been in the snow before—posted a sign at the trailhead asking for help and directing would-be rescuers to their Jeep, ABC 7 reports. She and Carlos Hernandez Jr., 21, started rationing their food and drinking melted snow. Fortunately, they had enough gas in the car to keep the engine and heat running. When the couple didn't return home Friday night as expected, their families reported them missing.

Helicopters and search crews started looking, but couldn't find the couple, KPIX 5 reports. The area was hit by a storm, with below-freezing temperatures, and by Monday Herman-Kitami was "emotional," desperate to go home, she says. Meanwhile, Jason Logan and his father-in-law Ron Lovell had heard about the missing couple and went out on their snowmobiles to search, KRCR reports. After four hours, they met up with another search party, and the group of trucks and snowmobiles came upon the missing campers and towed them out of the area Monday afternoon. "Without them, we wouldn't be here," says Herman-Kitami, and Logan agrees the situation was dire: A snowstorm hit Tuesday morning, and he thinks the Jeep would have been buried. The Glenn County Sheriff's Office posted pictures of the rescue. (A woman was rescued after three days trapped ... in an elevator.)

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