RENO, Nev. -- A Kelso Wash. woman, now living in Nevada, was one of the first rescuers to reach a couple and four children lost in sub-zero cold for two days in the Nevada wilderness.
Lucia Gonzalez-Nunez joined a search part of some 200 people on Monday when word got out that James Glanton and Christina McIntee, their two children and a niece and nephew had failed to return from Sunday from a trip into the mountains near their town of Lovelock.
The family was found unhurt huddled under an overturned Jeep deep at the bottom of a crevasse Tuesday.
Gonzalez-Nunez, her fiancee and friends Chris Montez were together in a search party when they spotted tire tracks in the snow far off into the distance. Following the tracks with a pair of hunter's binoculars Gonzales-Nunez said her fiancee then spotted the family's Jeep.
"It took us about 15 minutes to get down to them going as fast as we could," Gonzalez-Nunez said. "They were way down there."
When Gonzalez-Nunez and the others reached the family they discovered them unhurt but out of food and water.
"They were hungry, thirsty and ready to go home," she said.
Gonzalez-Nunez said that family seemed confident that they would be found.
"It's Nevada. There are lots of hunters and everyone knows the hills and they knew someone would come to get them," Gonzalez-Nunez said. "It was impressive to see the community come out and see people wanting to help them."
Search and rescue officials said the family had done the right thing.
"They stayed together and that was the key that allowed them to live through this experience. You don't see that that often in search and rescue," said Paul Burke, search-and-rescue coordinator for the state. "They did some pretty unusual things, heating up rocks and things. Staying together, that was a big deal."
A member of the rescue team said the Jeep's engine would no longer start, but the group stayed in the upside-down vehicle for shelter, burning the spare tire to keep warm.
"Their father kept them alive and well," said Patty Bianchi, CEO of Pershing General Hospital, where the six were taken. "Everybody is in good shape. There was no frostbite. They are stable. They suffered a little exposure and dehydration, but that is all."
About 100 well-wishers lined the street outside the hospital and broke into cheers when two of the smallest children were taken from an ambulance. The others walked into the hospital on their own.
"The mood where I'm at is ecstatic," said Col. Tim Hahn of the Civil Air Patrol, which used several planes to search for the group. "We are thrilled beyond words."
Rescuers began scouring the Seven Troughs Area wilderness on Sunday night for James Glanton, 34; his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, 25 (pictured above); their two children, Evan and Chloe Glanton; and Shelby Fitzpatrick and Tate McIntee, a niece and nephew of McIntee's. The children range in age from 3 to 10.
The situation grew more dire as overnight temperatures in Lovelock dipped to 16 below zero.
A cellphone forensics team analyzed which towers the woman's phone was in contact with during their trip, giving searchers a better idea of where they might be, Hahn said. They were so far out in the wilderness that they apparently were unable to call for help, although there was enough signal strength to leave a basic electronic trail from the early stages of their ordeal, air patrol officials said.
The discovery prompted a wave of relief on social media. "Very glad to hear the missing family in Lovelock has been found and they are safe!" Gov. Brian Sandoval tweeted. "Thank you to all who worked so tirelessly to find them!" The Seven Troughs area is named for seven parallel canyons below Seven Trough Peak, elevation 7,474 feet. It is about 20 miles southeast of Black Rock Desert, where the annual Burning Man counterculture festival is held.
Most of the roads are dirt and more easily traveled by ATVs or other off-road vehicles.
Seven Troughs is a popular area for hunting chukars, a pheasant-size winter game bird.
"So it's not the kind of area where there would be nobody around," Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said.
"But most chukar hunters are smart enough not to go out in the weather we have now."