The Best Christmas Present Anybody Could Ever Have

My coffee buddy, Butte County Sheriff Perry Reniff helps Alexis Dominguez exit the helicopter (Photo: Bill Husa, Chico Enterprise Record)

 Today was a good day. No, strike that, today was a GREAT day!

The saga of the Dominguez family lost in the snow looking for a Christmas tree hit home with me in a big way, because I had people from all over asking me what the weather was going to do to the search and rescue effort. I was the bearer of bad news, which I hated, because the winter storm bearing down made survival even less likely.

(Note: for national/international readers of this blog, this story unfolded in my home city and county)

Mountain weather is unforgiving. Fortunately, they knew what to do. They improvised a snow cave, wrote “HELP” in the snow, and stayed put until rescuers could find them. When they did, the relief was nation-wide.

Yes, its the best Christmas present anybody could ever have.

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December 19, 2007 9:20 pm

The father is an EMS in training who has received survival training. Folks, pay heed to this. Get trained!

Steve Moore
December 19, 2007 10:32 pm

They made a snow cave.
Such a simple thing, and yet so few people know about it.
A great story!

Bob L
December 20, 2007 7:07 am

As a young Boy Scout, an older boy joined our troop from another and told of a winter camping trip where they built an igloo. Once complete, they heated it with a candle to a very warm temp. Something I have remembered for 30 years.
I am amazed at the skills I still use from those days in Scouting. I encourage parents to get involved with their kids in Scouting. You and they will develop life long skills that will be used long after the balls and cleats have been discarded. It might save a life some day ( end of Boy Scout ad)

steven mosher
December 20, 2007 7:35 am

Fantastic! heed sadlov folks.

December 20, 2007 1:55 pm

On the contrary, the big storm allowed for the building of a snow cave and also forced the family to hunker down and stay put until rescue .
Like I said, weatherman for northern California, best job in the world.

December 20, 2007 5:36 pm

I hate to be a pragmatist, but the best present would have been not to have been placed in such an ordeal in the first place.

December 21, 2007 8:36 am

It would have been much smarter to stay with his truck, which was found long before the family was found in that snow cave. Would have been smarter still not to get your family in such a predicament. How many tax payer dollars were wasted looking for them?

Julie KS
December 21, 2007 1:44 pm

Jim, I was at first thinking the same thing about the truck, but apparently the family became lost after they hiked away from the truck.
I have such a bad sense of direction that now, when I hike in an unfamiliar area with unmarked trails, I take my little gps unit, and mark where I parked.
Thank goodness they were found, and in the nick of time before Anthony’s weather forecast came true.

December 21, 2007 7:50 pm

Got lost and disoriented in white out conditions, turned down wrong canyon, went over wrong ridge, by then, two feet of snow to hack through. Tracks covered could not retrace steps. Gear not sufficient for long stay in cold weather. The cave was probably the only way to go. As for not going out, somewhat agree, but out here, due to the fickle nature of these Pacific Storms, more than once I’ve been surprised by the rapid acceleration of a storm.

Evan Jones
December 22, 2007 12:12 am

I remember from cub scouts you were supposed to walk in a tight circle,tramping down the snow while letting it build up around you. (Fortunatley I never got the opportunity to try that one out!)

Caity rose
August 13, 2008 5:17 pm

Okay, for those of you people who are disrespectful.. put yourself in their shoes! you think the father, freddy, doesnt already feel bad enough? You dont need to post it all over the Enternet! Alot of you dont understand how easy it is to get lost up here. Sometimes its hard to even find your own campspot walking from philbrook lake to the camp sites.. its not like every tree is different so you can tell which ones you have passes before! And on top of that, they had 2 FEET OF SNOW covering their tracks! I am one of her best friends, along with chelsea denna. the heart break we went through is the ultimate worst feeling in the whole world! not knowing if your second family is even alive.. what if we’re looking in the wrong spots? Worrying about having to find them already dead? Knowing that your at home in a heated house watching every news channel possible with about 5 phones surrounding you.. and they are outside with jeans and vans on in SNOW! you start to realize the little perks in life! I dont think ill ever say im freezing another day in my life!

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