Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Breaking: Ashland Family Found, All Six Alive

From Medford, some unexpectedly happy news:
Six family members missing in a recreational vehicle since March 4 were found alive today in a remote, snowy section of Southern Oregon, authorities said.

Bureau of Land Management workers first found two of the family members, who had decided to walk out of the woods and left the vehicle, sheriff’s deputies said.

Later, search and rescue workers in a helicopter made contact with the other four, said Sgt. David Marshall, spokesman for the Douglas County sheriff’s department.

A snow machine was headed into the area to pick up the four, Marshall said.

A press release from the Douglas County sheriff’s office said the area “is not accessible by vehicle. There is a heavy snowpack.”

The family of Pete Stivers, 29 and Marlo Hill-Stivers, 31, disappeared while traveling in a 35-foot recreational vehicle from Ashland on March 4 across the mountains to the Oregon coast.

Also on the trip were their children Sabastyan, 9, and Gabrayell, 8, and Elbert and Becky Higginbotham of Arizona, whom police described as Pete Stiver’s mother and stepfather.

17 days marooned in the middle of winter snows? It's no wonder most people had given up on finding them in Southern Oregon--even the search crews. It appears the family did the right thing: stay with the vehicle, but send out a scouting party when you can. Were it not for the parents going out in search of help, BLM staff might never have found them until it was too late. So few of these stories turn out well; it's great news to hear that all six are still alive. And the moral? Think twice about shortcuts you don't know well--especially in winter.