A sheriff's official says it was "a Christmas miracle" that searchers found and rescued members of a Pennsylvania family stranded in two separate locations in a northern Arizona forest after their vehicle got stuck on a snowy road while trying to reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is closed for winter.
Once a major winter storm began hitting the region Saturday afternoon, it probably would have been impossible to locate Karen Klein, who had gotten stranded with husband Eric Klein of Easton, Pennsylvania, and their 10-year-old son, Isaac, said Jim Driscoll, chief deputy for Coconino County.
"Our guys are ecstatic. This is a save," Driscoll said of the searchers. "We were able to get a family back together for Christmas. It could have gone very bad very, very easily."
The family got stuck on a forest road after they found State Route 67 to the North Rim closed for the winter but sought an alternate way to reach their destination, Driscoll said.
"Google Maps shows there's a way — but it's impassable," he said, adding. "This is a problem we've had numerous times."
Searchers on snowmobiles early Saturday morning tracked and located Karen Klein, 46, after she walked about 26 miles in search of help before taking refuge in a cabin at a seasonally closed park entrance, Driscoll said.
Other searchers rescued Eric and Isaac Klein Friday afternoon after the 47-year-old father was able to hike to higher ground to get cellphone service to call for help, Driscoll said.
That contact started an air and ground search for Karen Klein, with multiple agencies participating, Driscoll said.
"This is a Christmas miracle," Driscoll said. "We were really beginning to think, especially with the snow coming in ... we pulled out all the stops."
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