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CAP cell phone forensics lead searchers to 6 found alive in Nevada

posted Dec 11, 2013, 2:14 PM by Ray Schnell

December 10, 2013

NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS -- Two adults and four children missing nearly two days in bitter winter conditions in rural northwestern Nevada’s rugged, mountainous Seven Troughs Range were found alive and well Tuesday afternoon by Civil Air Patrol in coordination with Pershing County Sheriff’s Office, Fallon Naval Air Station, Washoe County Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit, Nevada National Guard Lakota helicopters and the state Division of Emergency Management.
Nevada Wing Commander Col. Tim Hahn said Maj. Justin Ogden and Col. Brian Ready, CAP’s cell phone forensics experts, played a critical role in helping rescuers narrow the search area.
“The cell phone forensics team pinpointed where they could not possibly be and their efforts were very time-consuming. This morning they provided a key clue that redirected the search and led to the rescue.”
A searcher on the ground spotted the missing family’s silver 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee with binoculars and called the sighting into the command post, leading a CAP plane and ground searchers to the area, Hahn said. A ground team then retrieved the six – a 34-year-old man, a 25-year-old woman and four children ages 10, 4, 4 and 3.
The couple and the children had never returned after driving into the Seven Troughs area about noon Sunday to play in the snow. Overnight temperatures fell as low as 20 below zero.
For its role in the coordinated search, Hahn said he has been told the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center will award the Nevada Wing with six saves.
The CAP members’ role in the search began Monday with the AFRCC’s authorization at the request of the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office. The first day, Hahn said, two Nevada Wing planes and 14 CAP members participated, contributing 80 man-hours and “constant coverage ... of a relatively small search area.”
Two more CAP planes joined the mission Tuesday. Four planes participated in today’s search.
“I cannot tell you what it is like to be the commander of this wing and to work with the people throughout CAP," Hahn said. "To be part of bringing them home safe is an honor to be relished.”