IRON COUNTY — At about 4 a.m. Sunday morning, just before the worst of the snowstorm blew in, several search and rescue teams pulled five teens off Kolob Mountain who had been stranded there for most the night. The teens’ vehicle was stuck in a large snow drift and they were found holed up in a nearby cabin they had entered to stay warm.
A 19-year-old, two 14-year-olds and two 13-year-old boys were overdue Saturday afternoon from a hiking trip they had planned through a remote area, sparsely populated with cabins and crisscrossed with dirt roads. The boys had gone to Kolob Mountain, an expanse between the town of Virgin to the south and Cedar Mountain to the north.
The mother of one of the boys received a cell phone call from them at approximately 12:30 p.m. Saturday, the last time anyone heard from them. Meanwhile, the boys’ vehicle was stuck in a snowdrift nearly 5 miles up Kolob Road, on a rough dirt road with no cell service. When the boys didn’t return, their families, from the Hildale-Colorado City area, started a search at about 6:30 p.m., and later called in Search and Rescue as the sun went down and the temperatures started to drop.
“The wind chill was extremely cold” Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Darell Cashin said, “I’d step out of my vehicle and it was cutting right through me.”
With the wind chill, Cashin estimated the temperature was around zero degrees fahrenheit. “It was dang cold,” he said.
Iron County Sheriff’s SAR teams searched from the northern, Cedar City side, while Washington County Sheriff’s SAR teams searched from the southern, Kolob Reservoir side of Kolob Mountain. Both teams were hampered by muddy and snowy road conditions, Cashin said. Tracks from a vehicle were spotted by the south-side teams on Kolob road.
Rescuers followed the vehicle tracks north on Kolob Road. The road condition continued to worsen, as more and more snow drifts had accumulated, Cashin said.
“Then when there wasn’t snow,” Cashin said, “there was mud … trying to get anywhere up there was absolutely difficult.”
Several of their four-wheel drive vehicles got stuck, so a trailer and snowcat were used throughout the night to tow vehicles out.
“We had a couple flat tires, one guy broke his transmission in half, it was just one of those nights,” Cashin said.
As the night progressed, the wind came in stronger and stronger making the rescue more difficult.
SAR teams pressed on and further up the road found evidence that a vehicle had been stuck in a snow drift about 4 miles from Kolob Reservoir, but had continued north through several more snow drifts.
Rescuers followed these tracks as fast as they could and finally found the boys’ vehicle abandoned at about 3:30 a.m. Upon inspection, rescuers found a note on the vehicle that said the boys went to a cabin.
SAR members followed the tracks and soon found all of the boys inside a privately owned cabin on the Iron County side of Kolob Mountain near the turnoff to Kanarraville Canyon. The cabin was approximately 5 or 6 miles north of Kolob reservoir, Cashin said.
The boys had entered the cabin to stay out of the elements and built a fire in the fireplace to stay warm. They were in good health and were brought back down the south side of the mountain to the incident command center.
Some of the boys’ family members, who were also searching, met the SAR team at the command center. After the boys were given drinks and fed, the family members took them home.
After the search and recovery, Cashin estimated that the boys’ vehicle had been stuck for 12-14 hours before SAR found them. After locating and returning them, it took approximately three hours for all the search and rescue teams to get off the mountain and get everything cleaned up.
“It was a successful, collaborative effort,” Cashin said, “luckily we got out of there before the snow hit and everybody was safe.”
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