Stranded 12 Days, Ate Dog Food, Hiked 3 Days in Snow

After a storm trapped them for 9 days in their car, they hiked for help.

ByABC News via logo
February 12, 2009, 1:30 PM

Feb. 7, 2008— -- A Utah couple trapped in a snowstorm for 12 days survived on granola bars and dog food, starting their car periodically for warmth before they left it to look for help.

On Monday, nine days into their torturous ordeal, Thomas and Tamitha Garner abandoned their car and began to hike for three days before finding rescue.

"The food was low. The water was just about gone. We had two frozen bottles of water left, by that time," Tamitha told a news conference from the hospital, where she and her husband are now being treated for dehydration and frostbite.

Thomas, a former Eagle Scout, made his seat cushions into snowshoes and then led his wife through the waist-deep snow, traveling down the snowy road wearing the jeans and light coats they had set out in.

"We took his deodorant and used a smoke and just got a bunch of wood together, lit the deodorant on fire and just kept staying awake the last two nights," Tamitha said.

Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, a snowplow came to the rescue. Tamitha said when she first saw the truck it seemed almost too good to be true.

"I'm running – I'm screaming – I'm crying – I'm jumping up and down – I'm like, am I seeing things? It was wonderful," she recalled.

"I would say this definitely makes me a believer in prayer – to whomever you pray to – but if you do it and you do it diligently and with sincerity, your prayers will be answered," said Thomas.

Tamitha says her family is what kept her going and that she told herself, "Hold on one more day. ... One more day and I'll be home."

The couple had gone to shoot photos of wild horses in Modena Canyon, about 60 miles west of Cedar City near the Utah/Nevada border, with their dog Medusa, when their truck got stuck in the snow.

Relatives called the police when they hadn't heard from them, prompting a rescue mission that spanned a search over thousands of miles of snow-blanketed mountains and desert. An intensive air and ground search launched by Nevada and Utah authorities failed to find them.