Fires lit by stranded Nevada family failed to attract rescuers

Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:55pm EST
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By Jonathan Kaminsky

(Reuters) - A family that spent two nights huddled in Nevada's frigid backcountry after crashing their Jeep during an outing to play in the snow tried unsuccessfully to get the attention of rescuers flying overhead by setting fires, they said on Monday.

James Glanton told NBC's Today Show that during his family's ordeal this month he twice saw small planes overhead, but the fires he lit using the overturned vehicle's spare tire and nearby vegetation failed to attract the rescuers' notice.

"I had a lot of white smoke, but it was surrounded by snowy mountains which made it kind of difficult to see, I guess," said Glanton, 34.

Glanton and his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, 25, had taken their two young children and McIntee's niece and nephew on a trip to an abandoned mining camp in the Seven Troughs range in northwestern Nevada when they hit a patch of ice and their Jeep overturned, Glanton said.

"It was a really slow-motion rollover," Glanton said. "It didn't even shatter the window."

When the group failed to return home on the evening of December 8, a wide-scale rescue operation was launched, backed by helicopters and airplanes. Fears grew for the group's fate, with unseasonably cold temperatures plunging to minus 21 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 29 Celsius) overnight.

Stranded in the wilderness and equipped with matches, lighters and magnesium fire starter, along with a limited supply of food and water, the group elected to remain together with the children and the vehicle, Glanton said.

"We figured our best chance was with the Jeep because it was the most visible rather than just a single person walking out in the wilderness," Glanton said.   Continued...