An Easton, Pennsylvania, woman hiked for 26 miles in freezing temperatures and rugged terrain as she tried to rescue her husband and son after the family got stranded in snow near the Grand Canyon.
Karen Klein, 36, her husband Eric, 37, and their 10-year-old son Isaac went on a weeklong trip to Las Vegas. On Thursday, they headed to the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona to go sightseeing, theMorning Call reported.
When the family discovered the state road leading to the canyon’s North Rim was closed because of snow, they sought an alternate route along a forest road. There, their rental car got stuck in a ditch, Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll told the Associated Press.
Klein, a Northampton Community College professor, is also a marathon runner and triathlete. The family decided she was in the best shape to continue the journey on foot to find help.
“She’s in really good shape. Had she not been, she wouldn’t have made it,” Driscoll said.
But Klein wasn’t wearing snow gear. After heading to a main road about 10 miles away — which was also closed — she decided to walk toward a Grand Canyon park entrance after spotting a highway sign. That was another 14 miles.
“That instinct just kicks in,” Klein told NBC10. “You have to protect your family. You just keep driving forward. You just have to keep moving forward.”
By Friday afternoon, Klein came across an abandoned park ranger cabin. She broke the window and took refuge inside the unheated structure, keeping warm under a few blankets.
Around the same time, Eric Klein and Isaac were found. They had agreed to stay in the car while Klein hiked, but Eric traveled to higher ground for cell phone service to contact authorities.
Klein wasn’t found until early Saturday morning. She had hiked 26 miles, and survived by eating twigs and drinking her urine. She pulled a groin muscle and was too weak to stand when she was rescued.
“The first thing I said was, ‘Oh my gosh officer, I’m so sorry I broke the window. Don’t arrest me,'”Klein said.
Klein was in stable condition in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Utah, her twin sister, Kristen Haase, said Sunday. Eric and Isaac were treated for hypothermia and released.