CARLSBAD, N.M. — A New Mexico family of four, stranded in the mountains for four days during a snowstorm, has been found safe, according to New Mexico State Police.
Cutter Rogers of Carlsbad went elk hunting on Christmas Eve in Curtis Canyon with his three children, ages 11 to 14, said Officer Dusty Francisco of New Mexico State Police. When the family did not return to a hotel in the area, about 100 miles northeast of El Paso, Texas, the Otero County Sheriff’s Office in Alamogordo, New Mexico, was notified Thursday and officers contacted state police to help with a search.
Rogers’ silver Dodge diesel pickup truck was found just before noon MST Friday off Sunspot Highway in Lincoln National Forest with the family safely inside. The area along the road in New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains from the small communities of Cloudcroft to Sunspot varies in elevation from about 8,700 feet to almost 9,700 feet.
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Rescue personnel had to use a snowmobile to find the family because the snow was so deep, state police Officer David Miller said. Rescuers also had combed the area using aircraft and off-road vehicles.
Rogers, manager of the Otis Mutual Domestic Water Consumers and Sewage Works Association near Carlsbad, had checked conditions before going out but became stuck in the snow anyway, Miller said.
“Where they were at was a road they’d checked,” Miller said of rescuers. “But they (the family) got so far down there that we couldn’t even get four-wheel-drive pickup trucks down there.”
As of Friday morning, a foot or more of snow was on the ground.
The National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning for the area. Snow began falling Thursday and was expected to continue with a foot or more of accumulation through Sunday, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Although the area is federal land, U.S. government officials were on standby because of the shutdown, which was then in its seventh day. So Rogers’ family and friends also helped volunteers rescue groups in the region with the search.
A GoFundMe page started Friday morning to raise money to use a helicopter in the rescue operation raised more than $21,000 of its $25,000 goal. Its organizer, Mikeith Green of Lubbock, Texas, said the money would be refunded since the expense was not incurred.
The Rogers family — Cutter Rogers, 36; his son, Chuck, 14; daughter, Kensie, 12; and son Jase, 11 — were airlifted off the mountain and emergency medical service personnel evaluated them, according to the New Mexico State Police release.
“They were inside their pickup truck,” Miller said. They stayed hunkered down in that pickup truck for the last two days, waiting.”
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