A 13-year-old girl who hiked nearly 20 miles through the dark, freezing Mojave Desert to find help for her stranded family was released from a hospital Sunday.
The girl, her mother and 22-month-old brother were released from the hospital at Edwards Air Force Base after being treated for hypothermia, said George Fox, a U.S. Air Force spokesman.
Air Force personnel found the girl, carrying a blanket and a bottle of water, at about 8 p.m. Friday. She had walked for 24 hours across a muddy section of Rogers Dry Lake, the West Coast landing site of the space shuttle.
Her mother and baby brother were found on Saturday in the desert northeast of Los Angeles. Fox said he was amazed they were found alive.
“It gets dark here about 4:30 p.m. in the evening, so it was pitch dark, below freezing and they spent two days out there,” Fox said.
“There was frostbite on some of the extremities of the baby.”
The mother and the two children were returning from the desert city of Barstow, about 40 miles east of the base, when their car ran out of gas at about 8 p.m. Thursday, Fox said.
They apparently got lost looking for a back entrance to the base.
There are no roads in the area, only low shrubbery and miles of sand devoid of landmarks.
Temperatures both nights dipped into the low 20s. The family began to walk but the mother tired from carrying her baby and sent the daughter on for help, Fox said.
Cold and muddy, she was spotted by base security officers Friday night. At about 9:45 a.m. Saturday, searchers in a helicopter spotted the mother wandering near the lake bed. She led rescuers to the baby, who had been placed in the car, Fox said.
Although the three had been gone for more than a day, the father, stationed at Edwards, did not report them missing.
“Why he didn’t, I don’t know,” Fox said.