SAN MIGUEL, Colorado (KETK/CNN) – A Texas family was found safe on Christmas Eve after being stranded in the snow of the Rocky Mountains for nearly 24 hours.
The couple in their early 30s and their 12-year-old daughter had set off on Monday from El Paso to Colorado to make a furniture delivery.
However, in Colorado’s San Juan National Forest their truck got stuck in the snow.
The family “tried to dig the truck out, but were unsuccessful,” Susan Lilly, a spokeswoman for the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN.
The three family members were reported missing Monday evening after they failed to show up for their furniture delivery.
One member of the Sheriff’s office was flying a personal aircraft as part of the search when he found their vehicle just before 9 a.m. Tuesday.
“The family stayed warm by running the truck engine and covering with furniture blankets,” Lilly said. “This morning they wrapped their tennis shoes with shipping plastic to help walk in snow and started walking.”
As the family was taking its chances on foot, authorities were mounting a multiagency rescue operation across three counties.
Not long after spotting their vehicle, authorities saw the family walking.
The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office says in case of a winter emergency, make sure to keep warm gear along with extra food and water in your car.
The family told authorities that they ended up on the road because their GPS said it was the fastest route.
“The family is lucky to have had moderate temperatures and our ability to use aircraft to locate them,” Masters said.
He added, “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.”
Authorities didn’t identify the family members by name. No one was injured, but their story is a cautionary tale about the perils of facing the unforgiving elements during the winter months.