Video: Tale of survival

updated 3/22/2006 8:24:40 AM ET 2006-03-22T13:24:40

A family that disappeared more than two weeks ago after leaving for a short trip in an RV was found alive Tuesday in a remote area of southwestern Oregon.

Two adults were found after they left the RV, which had gotten stuck in snow, to seek help. Hours later, rescuers located the others and they were reunited in Glendale, about 80 miles north of the California border.

“I love you, baby,” Marlo Hill-Stivers told her daughter, Gabrayell, 8, as the reunion was carried live on television.

“I love you too, mommy,” she replied.

Peter Stivers, resting his hands on the shoulders of his 9-year-old son, Sabastyan, said the kids had fun: “They didn’t know we were in trouble.”

The group left Ashland on March 4, along with Stivers’ mother and stepfather, for a trip across the mountains to the coast, which normally takes a couple of hours. A relative reported them missing March 8.

Officials said the six had apparently taken a shortcut, instead of taking a well-traveled route to the coast, and then gotten stranded in up to 4 feet of snow.

“We thought we’d take the scenic route,” Elbert Higginbotham, Stivers’ stepfather, told KGW-TV. “Every time we took a corner, it seemed like we took a wrong corner.”

At one point, the RV slid off the road and got stuck. The family tried unsuccessfully to dig the vehicle out by hand, he said.

Snow, freeze-dried food
They sustained themselves on snow and dehydrated food they had loaded up for the trip, he said, and had enough propane to keep the RV heated.

“I’m so proud of my family. They stuck together. They didn’t lose it,” Higginbotham said.

Stivers, 29, and his wife, 31, decided Monday morning to go seek help — leaving with a tent, wool blankets, tuna and honey, Higginbotham said. On Tuesday morning, workers from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management found them.

Rescue workers in a helicopter later made contact with the other four, said Sgt. David Marshall, spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. A snow machine was sent to pick them up.

After the family was reported missing, rescue teams from Oregon and California scoured the two closest routes from Ashland to the coast.

But police didn’t know exactly where they had been heading, and they eventually called off the search when there were no leads.

At the time, police said family members did not answer calls to their cell phones, and the bank accounts of all four adults had not been touched since March 4.

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