Mother Drank Her Own Urine, Walked 30 Miles In Snow, Nearly Lost Toes From Frostbite Trying To Save Her Stranded Family
Karen and Eric Klein took their 10-year-old son Isaac on a family trip to the Grand Canyon, but what was supposed to be a happy Christmas vacation turned into a near disaster. On Thursday, the Klein’s followed GPS instructions which steered them down a dirt road and their car got stuck in mud near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Eric Klein had recently broken his back during a car accident, so Karen was willing to walk to a nearby road to find help. The mother, who is a runner, made the treacherous 10-mile walk through the unforgiving wilderness only to discover that the highway was closed. She remembered that there was another entrance to the park about 14 miles away, and started walking in that direction.
It was snowing pretty hard and she was tired so she found shelter underneath an evergreen tree. Klein, a professor of biology at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, was afraid to fall asleep and freeze to death.
“I kept myself awake. I just talked to myself and rocked back to stay warm,” she said.
Klein ate aspen and evergreen twigs as well as melted snow and her own urine for food and water.
The 5-foot-4, 104-pound 47-year-old mother had pulled a muscle near her hip and lost a shoe due to thick snow. In order to move her leg she had to “physically pick it up and put it forward.”
“Your priorities definitely align very quickly,” Karen said of her journey. “I kept thinking, this isn’t how my life is supposed to end, no no no. My son needs his mother, my husband needs his wife. I am not letting my mother bury me. I can’t let this happen.”
She eventually found a cabin for park rangers, but it was closed for the season.
“I broke a window and crawled into the house,” she told NBC News from her hospital bed in Utah. “And around 2:30, I heard the knocking at the door, I heard people outside and I saw all the flashlights.
“Because I was like hallucinating and delirious, like, my first thought was like, I yelled out: ‘I’m so sorry officer that I broke your window… don’t arrest me for breaking the window,’ ” she continued. “They were just like, ‘You have got to be kidding me.’”
She had walked in the frozen hell for approximately 36 hours and nearly 30 miles.
Her husband “knew something was wrong” when she didn’t return for a couple of hours. Eric said that he and his son slept overnight in the car and the next morning he walked about 15 miles until he got cell reception, and then he called 911.
Emergency responders on snowmobiles were able to locate Eric Klein’s car, and were then able to track Karen Klein at the cabin.
“This is a Christmas miracle,” Jim Driscoll, the chief deputy for Coconino County told the Associated Press. “We were able to get a family back together for Christmas. It could have gone very bad very, very easily.”
Klein suffered from exhaustion and frostbite, and may lose a toe or two.
“I think that people should realize that they have more strength within them than they think, whether it’s a mental strength or a physical strength, and to draw upon that and to not give up hope,” Klein said.