A sheriff’s official says that it was “a Christmas miracle” that searchers found and rescued members of a Pennsylvania family stranded in two separate locations in the northern Arizona forest after their vehicle got stuck on a snowy road while trying to reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is closed for the winter.
As soon as a big winter storm began hitting the region Saturday afternoon, it probably would have been impossible to find Karen Klein, who had been stranded with her husband, Eric Klein, from Easton, Pennsylvania, and their 10-year-old son, Isaac, said Jim Driscoll, chief deputy for Coconino County.
“Our guys are in the clouds. This is a save,” Driscoll said of the searchers. “We were able to get a family back together for Christmas. It could have gone very bad very, very easily.”
The family got stuck on a forest road, after they found State Route 67 to North Rim closed for the winter, but sought an alternative way to reach their destination, Driscoll said.
“Google Maps shows that there is a road but it is impassable,” he said, adding. “This is a problem we have many times.”
Users on snowmobiles early Saturday morning followed and Karen Klein, 46, after they ran about 26 miles in search of help for taking refuge in a cabin on a season closed park entrance, Driscoll said.
Other seekers rescued Eric and Isaac Small Friday afternoon after the 47-year-old father was able to walk to higher ground to get cell phone service to call for help, Driscoll said.
That contact is initiated with an air and ground search for Karen Klein, with multiple agencies, Driscoll said.
“This is a Christmas miracle,” Driscoll said. “We were really beginning to think, especially with the snow comes in … we pulled everything out of the closet.”
Driscoll said Karen was exhausted from her cross-country trip through and over the snow with a depth of 3 meters, and searchers found her curled up on a bed in a hut. “She was too exhausted to have a fire,” he said.
The closed entrance station is about 30 km from the port, where the highway is closed for the winter.
Several National Park employees stay on the North Rim in the winter and can get in and out via snowmobiles, but they are miles away in an area where the park lodge, campsites and other facilities closed are located.
The father and son were treated for exposure and released at a hospital in Kanab, Utah, where Karen was Small in the first instance taken before they are transferred to the Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah, usa), for the treatment of what Driscoll called “a pretty severe cold the hand injuries.”
Hospital spokeswomen not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Driscoll said Karen Klein is a community college professor who is a marathoner and triathlete, and that the family agreed to before they to get help that they are in the best shape to make the attempt. She wore a parka, a knit cap and hiking boots but not winter clothes, ” he said.
“So she really is in good shape. Had she not been, she would not have made,” he said.
Her cross-country trip took more than 24 hours, from Thursday afternoon and ends Friday afternoon, and they kept moving to stay warm,” Driscoll said.
Researchers from the Utah’s Kane County Sheriff’s Office tracked her through the woods and found her on the closed entrance of the station, where the Coconino County Sheriff ‘ s Office seekers on vehicle-sized snow machines on them after the end of the motorway, which the Arizona Department of Transportation had partly ploughed over, to all the workers to move faster, Driscoll said.