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Snowmobilers found OK after two freezing nights stranded

Feb 25, 2014 - The Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. -- One of the five North Dakota snowmobilers who spent two frigid nights lost in northern Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains said he ate snow to stay hydrated and prayed that he would survive.

"The second night was really tough," Chad Tweeten said. "I didn't know if I was going to make it. I just said, 'You're not going to die like this.'"

The five were found safe Saturday afternoon. None of them required medical attention. They are all back home in McLean County, in central North Dakota.

Tweeten, James Murray and his son, Jaren Murray, and Rod Schilling and his stepson, Dustin Schlichting, lost their way when a snowstorm blew in while they were riding Thursday. They got a compass reading from Tweeten's cellphone but ended up going in the wrong direction.

"When you lose your line of sight it just sucks," Tweeten said. "It was a bad situation. We're not boneheads who drove until we ran out of gas."

Tweeten became separated from the others and spent two nights alone enduring what he called "savage" winds. He took shelter under a pine tree and walked in place to keep warm, praying and thinking about his family to keep him moving.

"I thought, 'Don't panic. You can do this,'" he said.

The other four eventually found Tweeten. Rescuers, guided by a ping from Tweeten's cellphone from when he used the compass, found the group.

"Those rescue guys were outstanding," Tweeten said. "I can't say enough."

Shawn Schafer, a friend of the five men who was in the area on a snowmobile trip of his own, helped in the search.

"We spent (Saturday) night celebrating, as many of their family and friends arrived just as they announced they had been found," he said.

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