Campers Stuck in Snow Rescued After Drinking Snow Water and Rationing Food for 5 Days

Carlos Hernandez. Jr, 21, and his girlfriend, Maia Herman-Kitami, 18, beam from their yellow jeep during their rescue.
Carlos Hernandez. Jr, 21, and his girlfriend, Maia Herman-Kitami, 18, smile from their Jeep during rescue. (Glenn County Sheriff's Office)

A California couple has been rescued after spending five days stranded in a forest when their yellow Jeep got stuck in the snow.

Carlos Hernandez. Jr, 21, and his girlfriend, Maia Herman-Kitami, 18, were found alive and well Monday afternoon in the Mendocino National Forrest in western Glenn County.

"I just want to say thank you and how grateful both of us are because without them, we wouldn't be here," said Herman-Kitami in an interview with KGO.

Herman-Kitami, an experienced hiker, and Hernandez left their San Francisco home last Wednesday to go camping in Alder Springs, the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office reported.

On Thursday, they decided to drive further into the snowy mountains when suddenly their Jeep got caught in the snow.

“As we reversed, the car got stuck,” she said.

The couple said they had no cell service, and they spent seven hours attempting to dig their car out of the snow.

A storm blew in shortly after, and they quickly realized they were stuck.

Even though it was Herman-Kitami’s first time in the snow, she knew they had to stay warm and ration their food. They drank melted snow water to stay hydrated and posted a sign at the trailhead that said they were stuck. When part of their soft top blew off, they were able to close it off and keep their car insulated using a tarp.

Luckily, they had enough gas in the car to keep the heat running.

Their family had expected them home by Friday, so they filed a police report on Saturday and began a search effort Sunday.

But when they were still stuck Monday, Herman-Kitami said she started panicking.

“When it was 4 o'clock and nobody was coming, I started getting kind of emotional and I was just like, I want to go home,” Herman-Kitami recalled.

But just 30 minutes later, Jason Logan and his father-in-law Ron Lovell from the search party stumbled upon the Jeep.

"They started laying on the horn, you saw both doors open and they jumped out each side," Logan told KRCR. “They were excited and we were excited.”

Logan and Lovell had been searching for four hours, covered more than 20 miles and had already run into other Jeeps when they saw the yellow one they had been advised to find.

"Finding the Jeep was the first part and then the unknown, you know? Are you going to open the doors and find anyone alive?" Logan wondered.

But Hernandez and Herman-Kitami were well and they reunited with their families shortly after.

“It was just mind-boggling,” Logan said.

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