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Oregon mushroom pickers found alive after 6 days, considered eating dog

Belinda and Dan Conne Courtesy Curry County Sheriff's Office

(CBS/AP) GOLD BEACH, Ore. - Three mushroom pickers lost for six nights in the rugged forest of southwest Oregon with no food used the screen on their dead cell phone and the blade of a sheath knife to flash a signal at the helicopter pilot who found them.

Dan Conne said Sunday from his hospital bed that he, his wife and son spent the night huddled in a hollow log with nothing to eat. They considered eating their pit bull, Jesse, for food.

"She's that good a dog, she'd have done it, too," Conne said.

A volunteer helicopter pilot looking outside the search area Saturday spotted Dan and Belinda Conne, both 47, and their 25-year-old son Michael, on the edge of a deep ravine.

"The wife had the Blackberry and I had the knife," Dan Conne said. "I kept flashing. The wife said, 'You're blinding them.' But I wanted to make sure they seen us. I wasn't taking no chance."

The family had given up hope and thought they were going to die, before rescuers came. Although they heard helicopters and planes flying overhead, they couldn't get the pilots' attention through the thick forest.

The Connes were found a mile from their jeep, and five football fields from a road. The family was airlifted to a hospital where they stayed overnight. Dan Conne had hurt his back, Belinda had hypothermia, and all three were hungry.

Jackson County Commissioner John Rachor is the same pilot who found a San Francisco family lost in a snowstorm in 2006, just 35 miles from where he found the Connes.

On Saturday, Rachor saw a movement on the edge of a deep ravine in a tall wood. A man in tan bib overalls was waving his arms. The Coast Guard was called for a helicopter to winch the family out.

"The searchers were with us within 20 minutes of the first copter that found us," Dan Conne said. "There must have been 9 or 10 of them. They just kept coming out of that brush. It was just a real happy feeling, 'cause we knew we wasn't going to die out there."

More on Crimesider
February 3, 2012 -- Mushroom pickers lost in Ore., searchers find their car, clothes, gear

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