Search crews have rescued a father and his two children who had been missing for a little over two days in Congaree National Park southeast of Columbia, South Carolina.
The National Park Service said Tuesday morning that rangers had located J.R. Kimbler as well as his 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter per Mercury News.
Officials said the three did not appear to be seriously hurt but were escorted to a hospital for any necessary medical treatment they may need after spending 58 hours in the forest.
Officials say the trio left the boardwalk trail but got lost on a path. Kimbler told rangers he and the kids hunkered down and slept when the sun went down.
Search crews had been traveling by airplane, boat, and on foot searching for the family in the 27,000-acre Congaree National Park filled with vast woods and swamps. The father had sent a text message late Saturday to the children’s mother saying that the family was lost. The children’s mother, Tammy Ballard, then reported the trio missing Saturday around 10 p.m.
The 40-year-old and his children originally left around 5 p.m. for what was supposed to be a short hike that originated from the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, said National Park Spokesperson Dana Soehn. They never anticipated that they would encounter being lost for over two days.
The search was tumultuous with high water, leaves, and large trees knocked down by this winter’s ice storm hampering search efforts.
“It’s been a very difficult search,” said Soehn on Monday afternoon before the trio was found. “We’re using all available resources.” Park officials say getting lost in the vast area isn’t necessarily unusual. “We have had folks get lost off trail this year, those are typical short searches, where law enforcement assists in finding someone who is slightly disoriented off of the trail,” said Lauren Gurniewicz, public information officer, Congaree National Park.
Officials closed the park down Monday afternoon during the search.
Updated from previous story.