MEDFORD, Ore. – Dehydrated food bought in anticipation for a Y2K shutdown and melted snow kept a family of six alive for more than two weeks in their snow-trapped recreational vehicle in remote southwestern Oregon, the family said Tuesday.
Fearing a search for the family from Asheville, Ore., had been called off entirely after 16 days, Marlo Hill-Stivers and husband Peter Stivers left their two children, 8-year-old Gabrayell and 9-year-old Sabastyan, and Stivers' mother and step father, in the 36-foot Dolphin RV in search of help.
They were found the next day by authorities and all six of the self-described "wilderness rats" were reunited Tuesday afternoon after rescuers brought the remaining four to safety.
“Just being in the situation we were in, praying together, made us stronger," Hill-Stivers said. "You’d be surprised how close you get to six people stuck in a motor home.”
Despite the ordeal, the youngest, Gabrayell, only cried once, her family told FOXNews, when her parents left to look for help.
Det. Brent Jensen told FOX News Wednesday the family wanted to get home.
"They just want to sleep in their beds in a warm home," Jensen said.
The six left Ashland on March 4 for a trip across the mountains to the coast that normally takes a couple of hours.
Officials had earlier said the six had apparently taken a shortcut, instead of taking the well-traveled Route 199 to the coast, and then gotten stranded in up to 5 feet of snow.
And that was the way it was described by Elbert Higginbotham, Stivers' stepfather.
"We thought we'd take the scenic route," he said on 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 eventually got stuck in the snow. The family tried to hand-dig the RV out but could not, he said.
Stiver and his wife decided Monday morning to go seek help — leaving with a tent, wool blankets, tuna fish and honey, Higginbotham said.
On Tuesday morning, workers from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management found Stivers and Hill-Stivers.
Later, rescue workers in a helicopter 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.
They were found about 14 miles west of Glendale, a town of fewer than 900 people along Interstate 5, about 80 miles north of the California border
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.
The family lived in Ashland for several years but rarely traveled, said Andi Black, general manager at DJ's Video in Ashland where Hill-Stivers worked.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.