Storm strands group in SUV for 60 hours, forces 2 men to walk 7 hours through snow

If you needed a harrowing story to motivate you to stock your car with emergency supplies, this is it.

Last week, two men were forced to walk for seven hours in extreme cold and waist-deep snowdrifts to call for help after a group of six people became stranded on the side of a Manitoba highway during a blizzard.

According to reports, 63-year-old Marie Colomb and her two sons were travelling along Highway 391 on Monday night, when they stopped to dig out some friends whose vehicle had slid into the ditch.

By the time the group managed to pull the car out, there were large snowdrifts covering the highway. Everyone got back into their cars and began driving again, but after travelling for another 20 kilometres, the snow and wind became too intense, and they were forced to stop.

To keep warm, all six people piled into Colomb’s SUV and lit the two scented candles that she was carrying with her. They didn’t have much water with them, so they survived the night on some pop and M&Ms.

Colomb told CBC News that when they woke up the next morning, the snowdrifts around them were metres high. They were without cell service and the highway was closed due to the storm, so there was no one in sight.

After spending another night stranded in the SUV, Colomb’s two sons, John Linklater and Ernest Castel, decided to head for help. They began walking toward the Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) tower they could see in the distance, while Colomb kept one thing in mind—her grandchildren.

It took Linklater and Castel seven hours to reach the MTS tower. When they got there, the pair began digging through snowdrifts to reach the door, which they eventually managed to break through. Once inside, they found a phone and immediately called the RCMP. They also found a survival pack, which was filled with non-perishable food items, water, coffee, candles, and a lighter. It was just enough to get them back to the SUV and through another night.

Then, on Thursday morning, help finally arrived.

“I thought I was dreaming when I first heard the front-end loader coming down the highway,” Linklater said. “Finally, when that tractor pulled up right beside us, that’s when I realized, ‘Woohoo!’”

The group was stranded about 50 kilometres south of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba. It took police and other officials from the small northern town 16 hours to plow through the snow to reach them.

Danny Smith, who was part of the rescue team, told reporters that it was difficult for any of them to tell where the road was.

“You were kind of guessing the whole way,” he said.

The group was suffering from dehydration, but didn’t have any serious injuries.

Without the candles and food items they found, the group may not have survived so many hours trapped in the snow. To find out what else you need to stock your car with in case of emergency, see our “Winter driving survival kit.