A Nevada father is being credited with keeping his girlfriend and four children alive and well by using innovative methods like heating up rocks and burning tires to help them survive two days trapped in the snow.
The desperate search for the group, who were reported missing after they failed to return from a mountain trip near Lovelock, turned jubilant Tuesday when all six were found in good spirits.
"They stayed together and that was the key that allowed them to live through this experience. You don't see that that often in search and rescue," said Paul Burke, search-and-rescue coordinator for the state. "They did some pretty unusual things, heating up rocks and things. Staying together, that was a big deal."
About 200 people had joined in the rescue effort for James Glanton, 34; his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, 25; their two children, Evan and Chloe Glanton; and Shelby Fitzpatrick and Tate McIntee, a niece and nephew of McIntee's. The children range in age from 3 to 10.
The family told authorities their Jeep had overturned just off a road. A member of the rescue team said the engine would no longer start, but the group stayed in the upside-down vehicle for shelter, burning the spare tire to keep warm as temperatures dipped to 16 degrees below.
"Their father kept them alive and well," said Patty Bianchi, CEO of Pershing General Hospital, where the six were taken. "Everybody is in good shape. There was no frostbite. They are stable. They suffered a little exposure and dehydration, but that is all."
A cellphone forensics team analyzed which towers the woman's phone was in contact with during their trip, giving searchers a better idea of where they might be, Hahn said. They were so far out in the wilderness that they apparently were unable to call for help, although there was enough signal strength to leave a basic electronic trail from the early stages of their ordeal, air patrol officials said.
Search volunteer Chris Montes said he and two rescuers with him first spotted children's footprints in the snow Tuesday morning, then followed a set of Jeep tracks until they found the flipped vehicle and the family beside it.
"They just said that they knew somebody was going to find them," Montes said.
Gov. Brian Sandoval tweeted about the discovery shortly after the news broke.
"Very glad to hear the missing family in Lovelock has been found and they are safe! Thank you to all who worked so tirelessly to find them!"
Reitz said a signal from the missing woman's phone showed they were in the Seven Troughs area 25 miles northwest of Lovelock on Sunday. After that, the search was expanded to a much wider area with two airplanes and two helicopters assisting ground crews.
"The mood where I'm at's ecstatic," said Col. Tim Hahn, who commands the Nevada Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, which had six planes searching for the group. "We are thrilled beyond words."
Fox News' Dan Gallo and The Associated Press contributed to this report