A couple trapped for 11 days in heavy snow was rescued Wednesday when a snowplow driver clearing a remote canyon road found them attempting a desperate hike to safety.
Thomas and Tamitha Garner left their stranded pickup truck Monday after their food ran out, and survived the overnight cold by starting fires with matches and a can of carburetor cleaner, Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said.
The couple had hiked 15 to 20 miles by the time the snowplow driver found them about 60 miles west of Cedar City in southwestern Utah. Gower said the couple were dressed in jeans and light coats.
"They look tired and exhausted, but considering the circumstances, look incredibly well," said Ethan Shumway, spokesman for Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City, where the couple was taken.
Doctors checked the couple for dehydration and possible frostbite, but things look good, Gower said.
"As far as we can tell right now, they'll have no permanent injuries,"
The Garners' dog, a Basenji mix named Medusa, also made it out and was in "great shape," Gower said.
A kiss, then ‘a piece of our mind’
Family members said they were ecstatic to hear of the rescue.
"We're gonna kiss them and caress them and then give them a piece of our mind," said Gerald Garner, Thomas' father, on his way out the door to see the couple.
The couple were on a trip to photograph wild horses. They had been last seen Jan. 26 at a gas station the eastern Nevada town of Panaca. They had left their home in Kearns two days before and relatives called when they hadn't heard from them.
The search began on Jan. 28 and spread over thousands of miles along the Utah-Nevada state line with no sign of the couple. The area has been blanketed with several feet of snow and some parts were accessible only by snowmobile.
When the Garners ran out of food, they started walking out of Modena Canyon, and eventually came across the snow plow driver near the Iron-Beaver county line.
A rescuer involved in the search died Sunday. Authorities believed he may have been exhausted after having to dig his snowmobile out of deep mountain snow on Saturday.