Hikers Stranded In Sub-Zero Temperatures Share Harrowing Story Of Survival
LOMA LINDA (CBSLA.com) — Two hikers barely lived to tell their harrowing tale of survival after they found themselves stranded on the San Gorgonio Summit with their service dog.
The summit is in the San Bernardino Mountains, which is the highest point in Southern California making their rescue even more difficult.
"Today was my first day walking so I actually cried tears of joy," said Tiffany Finney, a Costa Mesa resident.
Finney and Kenny Pasten intended to hike to the summit of Mount San Gorgonio to plant an American flag.
"It was supposed to be just a one day hike," Finney said.
Instead, the sun set quickly and the weather took a turn. They found themselves stuck overnight in sub-zero temperatures.
"It went from bright and sunny to two feet of snow in a matter of about ten minutes," said Pasten, another Costa Mesa resident.
"There were points where we both thought we were going to die," said Finney.
They dug a hole for shelter and used the one sleeping bag they had along with that American flag for warmth.
But it wasn't enough. Hypothermia was setting in.
"I was shivering so strong, so hard that I actually whipped my back and hurt my back and my neck and that's when I said, 'If we stay here, we're gonna die,' " said Pasten, an Army veteran.
He says his training kicked in and they hiked to find cellular service to call 911.
"My body was shutting down already and I kept falling and there were times that I blacked out," Finney said.
A San Bernardino County search-and-rescue team found them just in time. They both had severe frostbite and body temperatures in the 80s.
Finney still isn't sure if she'll lose fingers or toes. They say they've learned a lesson to be more prepared.
While they had enough food, water and some warm clothes, they didn't expect to stay the night.
But they're thankful to be here, talking and working toward recovery.
"I just want to thank Kenny for saving my life," Finney said.
Pasten may be able to go home as early as Friday. Finney is expected to remain in the hospital.
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