JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Three Midwestern sisters who were missing for days in a northwest Wyoming wilderness area were found alive in a remote area and airlifted to safety Thursday.
Working on a tip offered by a backcountry guide, a helicopter spotted the three about 10 a.m. in Bridger-Teton National Forest, about 15 miles southeast of the resort town of Jackson, said Lori Iverson, spokeswoman for the multiagency task force conducting the search. They were cold and hungry but otherwise healthy, she said.
The helicopter flew them to a trailhead where their father had been waiting while the search was conducted, Iverson said. Their mother, who was en route to Jackson on Thursday, was notified by telephone, she said.
Searchers had been looking since Tuesday for Megan Margaret Andrews-Sharer, 25, of Milwaukee; Erin Andrews-Sharer, 22, and Kelsi Andrews-Sharer, 16, both of Columbus.
They left on June 28 on a backcountry excursion and were scheduled to be in Chicago on Tuesday, Iverson said.
Searchers were hopeful of finding them because they had previous experience in the backcountry.
“They were well-prepared for the trip,” Iverson said. “They had the appropriate clothing, they had the appropriate gear.”
Iverson said they also stayed together.
“They stayed rational and utilized their experience,” she said. “The problem of course with splitting up is if one person gets injured then that person has no assistance.”
However, they did not tell anyone where they were planning to hike, leaving officials uncertain where to start searching in the vast rugged area in and around Jackson Hole.
Earlier Thursday, authorities doubled the number of people combing the wilderness to more than 60, and they searched on horseback, on foot and with help from tracking dogs and two helicopters.
The sisters’ vehicle was found Wednesday at a wilderness trailhead popular for hiking. But people and wildlife have carved out many alternate trails that can confuse hikers, Iverson said.
“It’s very easy, even for experienced people, to get off course and make a wrong turn,” she said.
The girls were spotted by a search helicopter about 7 miles west of where they had left their car.
Searchers directed the helicopter to the area after a guide called Thursday morning to say he had seen a person in an area with no trails the day before. The girls were found 20 minutes later.
“His accurate description of their located proved critical,” Iverson said.
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