Three teen boys were trapped in Routt National Forest in central Colorado Sunday night through a blizzard, 9News reports. The friends -- 17-year-old Justin McAlexander, 17-year-old Jessie Burke and his younger brother, 13-year-old Mason Burke -- were out on a snowmobiling trip when their vehicles got stuck in more than two feet of snow and they were stranded for over 12 hours.
Justin used survival training that he had learned in boy scouts to stay alive. After calling search and rescue, Justin dug a seven-foot pit for Jessie and his brother to try to stay warm in. The teen then collected enough firewood to burn a fire for five hours -- after the fire went out, the boys were forced to sit in the cold for two hours until he took a match from his survival and lit the fuel tank of the snowmobile.
According to local ABC affiliate 7News, areas of eastern Colorado were put under a blizzard watch starting Sunday evening, with the mountains expected to receive the bulk of the snow.
Justin told 9News: "We tried to stay calm. There were some times that we figured that they just stopped looking for us, figured we were dead."
Having told their parents that they would be home by 5 p.m., Justin contacted his father at 6 p.m. to tell him that they would need assistance. Although he could no longer make calls on his phone, he was able to text. The search began at 8 p.m. but was slowed by the blizzard. Craig Daily Press reports that the area where the teens got stranded, north of the town of Craig and above Freeman reservoir, is known to snowmobilers as "Top of the World." The search team located the boys there on Monday morning just before 8 a.m.
Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz told the Craig Daily Reporter: “They got stuck in an area that was difficult, but they made the right decision to stay with their machine. If they had tried to leave on foot, their tracks would have been covered by the blizzard conditions."