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Elbert Higginbotham, is reunited with Marlo Hill-Stivers (left) and Pete Stivers on March 21, 2006, in Glendale, Oregon.
Elbert Higginbotham, is reunited with Marlo Hill-Stivers (left) and Pete Stivers on March 21, 2006, in Glendale, Oregon.
(Photo: Sol Neelman/Oregonian)

Safe and Sound
By Alexandra Cale

March 23, 2006—Rescue workers found a family in their RV on Tuesday after 17 snowed-in days in the mountains near the Oregon coast.

Peter Stivers, Marlo Hill-Stivers, their two children Sabastyan, 9, and Gabrayell, 8, and Hill-Stivers's mother and stepfather, Elbert and Becky Higginbotham, were in the vehicle. On their way home from a trip to the coast, the family got lost in the mountains at an elevation of about 3,800 feet. They were trapped in four feet of snow.

"We had fuel and food, but we were running short," said Elbert Higginbotham. "We were rationing."

When the family was reported missing, rescue teams from Oregon and California searched likely routes to the coast. But with no leads and no idea where the family was heading, those conducting the unsuccessful search eventually called it off.

In the evenings, Sabastyan and Gabrayell entertained the adults by reading jokes from Reader's Digest aloud. The six family members survived mostly on dehydrated food.

On Monday, Hill-Stivers and her husband decided to go for help. They packed a tent, wool blankets, tuna fish, honey, and hand-warmers to take into the wilderness with them. The children stayed safe in the RV with their grandparents.

The couple was found the following day by a U.S. Bureau of Land Management worker. A rescue team in a helicopter located the rest of the family. The family was driven out of the snowbound area on snow machines. Parents and children were happily reunited.

"They enjoyed it," Peter Stivers said of his children's experience. "They didn't know we were in trouble."

For the adults, it was quite an ordeal. They had to worry about survival and rescue, and about keeping everyone calm.

"I'm so proud of my family," said Elbert Higginbotham. "They stuck together, they didn't lose it."


FEMA for Kids
This Web site from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has information on surviving a disaster. You'll also find information on how to be prepared for disasters and prevent disaster damage.

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