UPDATE, 12/12/2013: All six members of the family have been discharged from the hospital and are back home. They will go back to the hospital for checkups in the next several days.
LOVELOCK, NV - Two of six family members stranded in the bitter cold are out of a Lovelock hospital after being treated for exposure and dehydration, and the other four are expected to be released as soon as doctors are comfortable with their hydration levels.
The Pershing County Sheriff's Office confirmed Tuesday the family was found "alive and well." Dr, Douglas Vacek with Pershing County General says the family sustained mild exposure that doesn't rise to the level of frostbite, and says it's the best news possible.
The family's car drove over an embankment and flipped over. The family built a fire to stay warm from the time they got lost Sunday after taking their Jeep to play in the snow until they were found Tuesday.
The family told the rescuers they could hear search teams blowing whistles and could see the choppers so they knew people were looking for them.
Here is information from the Civil air Patrol, which helped with the search:
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. – Two adults and four children missing nearly two days in bitter winter conditions in rural northwestern Nevada’s rugged, mountainous Seven Troughs Range were found alive and well Tuesday afternoon by Civil Air Patrol in coordination with Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, Fallon Naval Air Station, Washoe County Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit, Nevada National Guard Lakota helicopters and the state Division of Emergency Management.
Nevada Wing Commander Col. Tim Hahn said Maj. Justin Ogden and Col. Brian Ready, CAP’s cell phone forensics experts, played a critical role in helping rescuers narrow the search area.
“The cell phone forensics team pinpointed where they could not possibly be and their efforts were very time-consuming. This morning they provided a key clue that redirected the search and led to the rescue.”
A searcher with binoculars spotted the missing family’s silver 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee about the time one of the CAP aircrews did, Hahn said. A Pershing County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue ground team then retrieved the six – a 34-year-old man, a 25-year-old woman and four children ages 10, 4, 4 and 3.
The couple and the children had never returned after driving into the Seven Troughs area about noon Sunday to play in the snow. Overnight temperatures fell as low as 20 below zero.
For its role in the coordinated search, Hahn said he has been told the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center will award the Nevada Wing with six saves.
The CAP members’ role in the search began Monday with the AFRCC’s authorization at the request of the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office. The first day, Hahn said, two Nevada Wing planes and 14 CAP members participated, contributing 80 man-hours and “constant coverage ... of a relatively small search area.”
Two more CAP planes joined the mission Tuesday. Four planes participated in today’s search.
“I cannot tell you what it is like to be the commander of this wing, and to work with the people throughout CAP,” Hahn said. “To be part of bringing them home safe is an honor to be relished.”