Palmer Township family rescued near the Grand Canyon

 

A Palmer Township family is recovering in the hospital in Utah after a scary ordeal left them stranded in a snow storm near the Grand Canyon.

According to the Coconino County Sheriff's Office, Eric and Karen Klein, along with their 10-year-old son, rented a car in Las Vegas and drove to southern Utah for some sightseeing.

On the way to the Grand Canyon Thursday, the family was redirected around a closed road by their GPS system onto some forest service roads. The roads were getting heavy snow and their vehicle was disabled, authorities say.

Karen left on foot to seek help along with water and food.

She was clothed in several layers, as well.

However, by Friday, Karen had not returned.

Eric then climbed to higher ground and was able to get a cell phone signal and call for help.

He and his son were located by a Bureau of Land Management Ranger. Both were treated for frostbite.

Kane County authorities say shortly after midnight Saturday morning Karen was found in a shack 26 miles away from where the family's vehicle was stranded on Thursday.

Karen was conscious but suffering from cold exposure and is being treated at a hospital.

She also had some frostbite on her toes.

Karen's twin sister, Kristen Haase, spoke with 69 News and says Karen is in good shape from participating in triathlons.

"She would make a decision and she would stick to it and never give up," Haase said. "She would do it or she would die trying."

However, no exercise could prepare Karen for what she endured.

Kristen says Karen hiked for 30 straight hours through the snow in freezing temperatures.

She had already been awake since 5 a.m. that morning, so she was awake for more than 45 hours for fear of falling asleep and succumbing to hypothermia.

On top of that, Karen pulled a muscle in her groin during the hike and snow and ice became lodged in her left shoe.

She couldn't get her shoe on after trying to dislodge the snow and ice so she did the last four miles with only a sock on her left foot.

"She hiked the last four miles without shoe on her left foot," Haase added. "That's the foot that has all the frostbite on it."

Out of sheer exhaustion, hypothermia, and dehydration, it took her nine hours to go four miles, Kristen says.

She had also fully consumed her food and water.

Kristen says Karen told her she would go 10 feet and collapse, and pick herself up again, eventually making it to the shack she collapsed in.

She had to break a window to get in.

Karen says she passed amid some blankets.

About six hours later ten rescuers looking for Karen located her tracks while searching and followed her to the shack.

From there she was taken to a nearby hospital. It took three hours due to the remoteness of the location coupled with the weather conditions.

Haase said doctors may have to amputate several of Karen's toes because of the frostbite but she is in good spirits and looking forward to getting home.

"Hopefully she will be back home in a few days and we can have a wonderful birthday together." Haase and Klein are turning 47 next week.

In all, the rescue took the combined efforts of the Kane County Sheriff's Department and Ambulance Service, the Coconino County Sheriff's Department, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Karen is a Biology Assistant Professor at Northampton Community College and Kristen Haase is a History Adjunct Professor there, too.