Rescue of Family Lost in Grand Canyon Snowstorm Called a 'Miracle'

FILE - Freshly fallen snow is plowed into several piles, creating a barrier at the main entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, Oct. 10, 2013.

A U.S. family stranded in two locations in an Arizona forest after their vehicle got stuck in a snowstorm have been rescued in what one sheriff's official called "a Christmas miracle."

Karen and Eric Klein of Easton, Pennsylvania, and their son, Isaac, 10, became stranded on a forest road Thursday after they found that a route to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was closed for the winter and they sought an alternate way, said Coconino County Deputy Sheriff Jim Driscoll. A digital mapping service does show that an alternate route exists, but it's not passable, Driscoll said.

Karen Klein, 46, set out for help first, alone; she is a triathlete and marathon runner who her family believed had the best chance of finding help, Driscoll said. She hiked 44 kilometers through rugged terrain before taking refuge Friday afternoon in a cabin at a seasonally closed park entrance, he said. Searchers on snowmobiles tracked and found the exhausted woman Saturday morning.

In the meantime, her husband and son were rescued. Driscoll said other searchers found them late Friday after they had hiked to an area far from their vehicle, where they found cellphone service to call for help. That contact set the search for Karen Klein in motion.

Eric Klein, 47, and his son were treated for exposure and released from a Kanab, Utah, hospital; Karen Klein was taken to a St. George, Utah, hospital for treatment of what Driscoll called "pretty severe" injuries to her hands from the cold weather.


Mother, 46, drank her own urine and ate twigs to survive 30-hour hike through the snow to get help after her family was stranded on roads near the Grand Canyon

A mother who hiked in the snow for 30 hours to get help after her family was stranded drank her own urine and ate pine tree twigs to survive, her family said.
Karen Klein, 46, was driving from southern Utah to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon with her husband Eric and their 10-year-old son Isaac on Thursday, when the road became covered in snow.
Their car got stuck in a ditch when they tried to turn around, and Klein set off on foot, walking in freezing temperatures and snow measuring three feet at certain points before she was rescued and taken to the intensive care unit on Friday.

Jim Driscoll, chief deputy for Coconino County, said it was 'a Christmas miracle' that all three members of the family from Easton, Pennsylvania, were rescued.
'Our guys are ecstatic. This is a save,' Driscoll said. 'We were able to get a family back together for Christmas. It could have gone very bad very, very easily.'
The family was on vacation and set off on the 150-mile journey from Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah to the Grand Canyon's northern rim.
They got stuck on a forest road after they found State Route 67 had closed for the winter, and then sought an alternate way to reach their destination, Driscoll said.
'Google Maps shows there's a way — but it's impassable,' he said, adding. 'This is a problem we've had numerous times.'
The road was soon covered in snow, and the car got stuck in a ditch before Klein decided to walk to the main road about 10 miles away in search of help or a cell phone signal while her son and husband stayed in the car.
But the main road was closed due to the snow, and she decided to continue on to the national park's entrance 14 miles away.

So Klein drank her own urine and ate pine tree twigs, knowing that eating snow could increase her chance of hypothermia, Haase said.
Along the way, Klein started hallucinating and she pulled a groin muscle before she finally reached a closed cabin 30 miles away.
She broke a window and passed out inside before she was rescued six hours later and taken to the hospital.
The 47-year-old father, who slept inside the car with their son, was able to hike to higher ground to get cellphone service to call for help, according to Driscoll.
A federal Bureau of Land Management ranger located them, and a search for the mother was launched.


Searchers rescue family stranded in snow near Grand Canyon

JACOB LAKE, Ariz. — Search crews have rescued a Pennsylvania family that got stranded in the snow on a forest road in northern Arizona while trying to reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is closed for winter.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office says searchers early Saturday morning located the mother who had walked approximately 26 miles since Thursday afternoon in search of help.

Other searchers rescued the father and the couple’s 10-year-old son Friday afternoon after they hiked to an area where they found cellphone service to call for help.

Authorities say Karen Klein was conscious and communicating when found but suffering from cold exposure, while Eric Klein and the couple’s son also are being treated for cold exposure, including frostbite.

Their hometown wasn’t immediately available.


Sheriff's official says rescue of Pennsylvania family a 'Christmas miracle'

A sheriff's official says it was "a Christmas miracle" that searchers found and rescued members of a Pennsylvania family stranded in two separate locations in a 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 winter.

Once a major winter storm began hitting the region Saturday afternoon, it probably would have been impossible to locate Karen Klein, who had gotten stranded with husband Eric Klein of Easton, Pennsylvania, and their 10-year-old son, Isaac, said Jim Driscoll, chief deputy for Coconino County.

"Our guys are ecstatic. 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 the North Rim closed for the winter but sought an alternate way to reach their destination, Driscoll said.

"Google Maps shows there's a way — but it's impassable," he said, adding. "This is a problem we've had numerous times."

Searchers on snowmobiles early Saturday morning tracked and located Karen Klein, 46, after she walked about 26 miles in search of help before taking refuge in a cabin at a seasonally closed park entrance, Driscoll said.

Other searchers rescued Eric and Isaac Klein Friday afternoon after the 47-year-old father was able to hike to higher ground to get cellphone service to call for help, Driscoll said.

That contact started an air and ground search for Karen Klein, with multiple agencies participating, Driscoll said.

"This is a Christmas miracle," Driscoll said. "We were really beginning to think, especially with the snow coming in ... we pulled out all the stops."

Driscoll said Karen Klein was exhausted from her cross-country trek through and over snow as deep as 3 feet and searchers found her curled up on a bed in a cabin. "She was too exhausted to even make a fire," he said.

The closed entrance station is about 30 miles from the gate where the highway is closed for the winter.

Several National Park employees stay at the North Rim over the winter and can get in and out via snowmobiles, but they're miles away in an area where the park lodge, campground and other closed facilities are located.

The father and son were treated for exposure and released at a hospital in Kanab, Utah, where Karen Klein was initially taken before being transferred to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah, for treatment of what Driscoll called "pretty severe cold hand injuries."

Hospital spokeswomen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Driscoll said Karen Klein is a community college professor who is a marathon runner and triathlete and that the family agreed before she set out to get help that she was in the best shape to make the attempt. She was wearing a parka, a knit cap and hiking boots but not snow gear, he said.

"So she's in really good shape. Had she not been, she wouldn't have made it," he said.

Her cross-country hike lasted over 24 hours, beginning Thursday afternoon and ending Friday afternoon, and she "kept moving to stay warm," Driscoll said.

Searchers from Utah's Kane County Sheriff's Office tracked her through the forest and found her at the closed entrance station, where Coconino County Sheriff's Office searchers on vehicle-sized snow machines joined them after coming down the highway, which the Arizona Department of Transportation had partly plowed to all the rescuers to move faster, Driscoll said.

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