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Christmas Eve Miracle: Family Rescued From Snow-Drenched Rocky Mountains

A family from Texas discovered safe and sound on Christmas Eve after being stuck among the snow-drenched peaks of the Rocky Mountain system for nearly a day.

According to the San Miguel Sheriff’s Department, a married couple and their 12-year-old daughter were on the final legs of a 600-mile-long road trip from the West Texas town of El Paso to the small, outdoorsy community of Norwood, Colorado (near the well-known skiing resort town of Telluride) when their truck became mired in the icy precipitation inside the San Juan National Forest early Monday morning.

Authorities were alerted to the missing family’s lack of presence by a “concerned family member” sometime around 7 p.m. on Monday night, the sheriff’s department said. “A multi-county search into the night was [at first] unsuccessful,” the department noted.

And then, on the morning of Christmas Eve, a minor miracle for the holiday season occurred–aided by some of the latest advancements in aeronautics, of course. San Miguel County Undersheriff Eric Berg, who was flying his own personal aircraft, located the absent family’s truck just before 9 a.m.

Minutes later, the entire wayward family was found two miles away from their truck walking in the direction of the Statutory Town of Dolores, Colorado “on a forest service road near Belmear Mountain, approximately 35 miles south of their destination,” police said.

Apparently, the father and husband relied on the aid of electronic GPS in order to ascertain the most expeditious route from the smallish city of Durango–which resides along the New Mexican border and was immortalized by Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris in a song containing the city’s name released early 1976–to tiny little Norwood (pop. 438) where they were attempting to deliver some furniture. But the navigation technology ultimately failed to account for the presence of snow along the mountainside.

“They tried to dig the truck out but were unsuccessful,” police said. The family kept their engine running overnight “for heat [and] covered themselves in furniture blankets.” During the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, the trio “wrapped their tennis shoes [in] shipping plastic [and] began walking.”

“The family is lucky to have had moderate temperatures and our ability to use aircraft to locate them,” Sheriff Bill Masters said in a statement. “But people need to remember that electronic GPS systems are not always the best guide. At this time of year especially, roads like these are not always passable.”

Masters added that “it’s important to have warm weather gear and extra food and water in your vehicle for emergencies such as this one.”

[image via screengrab/CBS 4 Denver]

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