HOPKINS (WACH)â?? The National Park Rangers have located a family of three that was missing for more than 48 hours in the Congaree National Park.
The family was found near Oak Ridge Trail at the Park early Tuesday morning. Jared Gurtler with the National Park Service, tells WACH Fox while searching for the family, he yelled out and heard JR Kimbler call for help. Gurtler says shortly after that, all three members of the family were rescued.
Gurtler said that he was working the night shift and knew that when daylight arrived it would be hard to hear human voices with the birds and other noises in the park.
Around 4:30 Tuesday morning Gurtler was yelling for Kimbler and the children and said he heard what he thought was human voices.
The park ranger and Kimbler made contact and Gurtler told them to stay still while he called for help.
Gurtler said Kimbler came towards his voice and he tossed three bottles of water over a channel separating them.
DNR crews made their way to the family on ATV's and brought them to safety.
Gurtler said he was excited to see everyone was safe and surprised to see what excellent condition the three missing hikers were in under the circumstances.
Kimbler told rescue crews he got lost after after leaving a bridge, instead of taking the trail the family went straight.
Kimbler told rangers this was his first time at the Congaree National Park.
"We're ready to hit the ground running whenever we get a situation like this," said Gurtler.
Gurtler said this was the 11th search and rescue operation this year in the park.
"When the sun was down they said they hunkered down and slept, I asked them if they drank any water and they said they attempted to drink some water in the park," adds Gurtler.
A National Park Service spokesperson says the family was in stable condition. The family was taken to the hospital for observation.
On Monday, Park Rangers closed the park while crews searched for the Kimbler family. Kimbler sent a text message on Saturday night, telling family members he was lost.
National Park Service Rangers and search teams had been looking JR Kimbler and his two children, ages 6 and 10, since midnight on Sunday morning.
Search teams say about noon Sunday they heard Kimbler call out for help, but were unable to locate him.
Rangers made voice and visual contact with Kimbler and his two children about two times off of the trail in the Congaree National Park.
The Department of Natural Resources, Richland County Sheriffâ??s Department, The Congaree Park Rangers, The Columbia Fire Department, and air support helped with the search of the family.
The Congaree National Park will reopen today at 2pm, but Visitor Center will be closed for the day.