RENO (AP) — Family members rescued after spending about 48 hours in the frigid wilderness of northern Nevada last week spoke out publicly for the first time Monday, saying they don't think they would've lasted two more days out in the cold.
Christina McIntee, 25, and her boyfriend James Glanton, 34, said they watched two small planes pass overhead as they waited near their overturned Jeep, but the white smoke of their campfire was apparently invisible against the white snow in the mountains.
"That was rough," McIntee said on NBC's "Today" show. "That was hard."
The interview with Savannah Guthrie was the first public appearance by the couple, two of their children and a niece and nephew of McIntee, since their rescue Tuesday. The six were taken to the hospital with mild dehydration and exposure, but all were released by Thursday. They've previously declined interview requests.
The group had gone to play in the snow north of their Lovelock home when their Jeep hit a patch of ice that "just shot us over the bank," Glanton said. Stuck after what Glanton described as a "slow-motion rollover," they started a campfire and rationed food to survive temperatures that dipped to about 16 degrees below zero.
"The boys saw it as just camping in the Jeep," Glanton said. "They were actually really good about it."
More than 200 people were looking for the group at the height of the search, including the Civil Air Patrol, search and rescue crews from several northern Nevada counties and volunteers from Lovelock, located about 100 miles northeast of Reno.
They were waiting by the vehicle when a trio of volunteers, guided in part by cellphone signal data and footprints in the snow, found them. Experts say their decision to stay by the Jeep and stick together probably spared them from a worse outcome.
"We talked about it, but we decided together that we should stay there," Glanton said. "We figured our best chance was with the Jeep because it was the most visible rather than just a single person walking out of the wilderness."