Family Rescued in Nick of Time


 
 

Hudson SangreeRyan Lillis | | Friday, December 21, 2007


PARADISE, Calif. -- Christmas tree search almost turned deadly.

Time was running out.

With another fierce winter storm heading toward the mountains of Butte County on Wednesday, the window of finding the Dominguez family was getting smaller by the minute.

And with the clouds growing thicker and the wind starting to pick up, officers in a California Highway Patrol helicopter made a stunning find on their final pass of the day:

A man jumping and waving frantically in the snow beside the word "HELP" written in twigs.

The desperate signal -- found three days after Frederick Dominguez and his three children wandered into the wilderness in search of a Christmas tree -- brought a massive rescue effort to a miraculous conclusion.

"When they turned around," a jovial Dominguez would later say at a nearby hospital, "I was just praying to God, saying 'Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.'"

The helicopter's pilot had been told not to fly Wednesday but took advantage of a brief break in the weather to make a 30-minute loop into the steep canyons that rescuers could not reach on foot.

Minutes after the helicopter landed on a small dirt road about 12:45 p.m. and scooped up Dominguez and his children -- 18-year-old Christopher, 15-year-old Alexis and 12-year-old Joshua -- the weather turned again. It wasn't expected to ease up for two more days.

They carried no food or water, and Dominguez, 38, had no survival training for the three days and three nights they would spend in the elements. He hadn't seen snow since he was 12.

Dominguez said the family took shelter in a damp concrete tunnel beneath the road where the helicopter landed, surviving temperatures that dipped into the 20s overnight.

Snow squalls dumped as much as 6 feet on the region since they walked away from their truck and into the woods at 5 p.m. Sunday.

They were found about four miles from where they had parked their truck.

The family sang songs during the days. But the nights -- when an icy wind burst through their makeshift shelter -- were miserable.

Dominguez, a native of Southern California who recently had moved to Butte County, said he'll probably opt for an artificial Christmas tree next year.

Freddy Dominguez and his three children were rescued by a helicopter north of Inskip in Butte County. The four family members spent three nights in the cold mountains.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Industry News, Extrication and Rescue, Operations and Protcols

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Baltimore Man Rescued from Building Collapse

Rowhouse collapse traps a worker in the basement area.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

A Night with Wisconsin’s Busiest Medic Unit

Ride along one night with the paramedics of MED 5.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Patient Dies in West Virginia Ambulance Rollover

Marion County Rescue Squad crew is injured in collision.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Boulder Pins Colorado Hiker

Wilderness EMS team frees trapped hiker.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

North Dakota Oilfield Medics

Tactics used in offshore platforms tailored to the remote areas.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Delaware Bus Crash MCI

A view from the triage sector as EMS crews work on several patients.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >