The tragic turn of events began when one of the family member's snowmobiles broke down

By Tim Nudd
Updated January 20, 2016 09:20 AM
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A Cheyenne woman is dead, and her husband and son are recovering, after their snowmobiles broke down and they were forced to take shelter in snow caves in blizzard conditions during a nightmarish three-day ordeal in Wyoming.

On Saturday, the husband and wife, both 46, and their son, 18 – whose names have not been made public – were snowmobiling in the Snowy Range mountains west of the Green Rock parking area off Highway 130, Albany County undersheriff Robert J. DeBree said in a statement.

One of the snowmobiles broke down amid high winds and a ground blizzard, and the family was forced to build a snow cave, start a fire and spend the night.

On Sunday morning, the father heard another snowmobile in the area and took one of the working snowmobiles to get help. That snowmobile then became submerged in a body of water. The father returned to camp and took the final snowmobile, but its handlebars later broke, making it unrideable.

Unable to return to his wife and son this time, the father built a separate snow cave and spent Sunday night there.

The father was discovered Monday morning by search teams. Rescuers spent the rest of the day searching for the mother and son, but the blizzard was so bad that the search was suspended until Tuesday.

The mother and son were found Tuesday morning, by which time the mother had died. The son was airlifted by the Wyoming Air National Guard to Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, and then transferred to a hospital in the Denver area for further treatment.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that the father was in good condition when he was found Monday. Not much was yet known about the mother’s death, the paper said, because the son was in “bad condition” and could not yet be interviewed extensively.