Jimmy and Betty Anderson, a married couple from New Mexico, are dedicated to their paper route. Despite weather forecasts of an impending snow storm, they decided to deliver 115 copies of the Clovis News Journal’s Sunday edition. A half-hour into the delivery, they were stuck in a 12-foot snowdrift.
And they were imprisoned there, huddled together under a thin blanket in their Ford Fusion, for 20 hours. Turns out, the storm was the worst New Mexico had seen in two decades.
For almost an entire day, they clung to their cell phone, posting pleas for help on Facebook and trying to direct emergency personnel to their snowdrift on a two-lane rural road in Clovis, New Mexico, an agricultural town on the border with Texas, NBC News added.
But their rescue was hampered by swirling snow, whipped through the air by 67 mph wind gusts and freezing temperatures. Not even an all-terrain military vehicle could help, and a bulldozer dispatched to rescue them could easily have run their car over “like a kitten with your car,” said one of their rescuers.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 29, 2015
“I was trying to keep my wife calm and not scare her,” Mr. Anderson said of their ordeal afterward.
“I was worried,” Betty added. “I didn’t know if we could make it.”
It all began about 8 p.m. Saturday. The Journal’s circulation director told the couple that they could delay the delivery of the Sunday paper if the weather was too treacherous, the newspaper reported. The Andersons have a 50-mile paper route in the county and in the city limits, which usually takes three hours to cover. Although a storm was forecast around the New Mexico town, Jimmy didn’t think it would hit until the morning.
So they headed out, opting to deliver the county papers first, and Betty said that at first, “it wasn’t that bad.” Five papers later, at about 8:30 p.m., the weather got much worse, Jimmy — who was driving that night — recalled.
“Just of all of a sudden, I could not see 2 feet in front of me. The wind was blowing so hard and there was like a dirt devil, only it was snow.”
Before they knew it, the couple was in a ditch along Curry Road 6.
“It kind of dumped on us in the middle of the road,” he said. “Between the wind and the snow, you couldn’t see a thing.”
And just as soon as the car stopped, the snowdrift piled up around them. He got out of the car and was already ankle-deep in white stuff, then called for help. Before long, the New Mexico couple was trapped.
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) December 29, 2015
Emergency responders told the couple they’d be rescued in a few hours, as other cars had been stranded by the squall as well. At first, they weren’t worried, but then just after midnight, the engine died and their only source of heat dissipated. Temperatures plummeted to 18 degrees overnight. The couple didn’t sleep much for fear they wouldn’t wake up.
And their rescue from the massive snowdrift didn’t come easy. The military vehicle’s drive shaft failed on the way to the couple’s Ford. Then a fireman got lost. Enter Bill Kshir, who runs the town’s public works department. He drove his truck behind a bulldozer and a grader around midnight Saturday and made it to the snowdrift.
“I was talking to Jimmy on the phone and (he) was telling me, ‘I can hear you guys,'” he recalled. “He guided us in by sound. But we ran the risk of running over the car.”
Kshir marked the spot where they were buried in the snowdrift, but soon, it disappeared. Seven hours later, he tried again, this time with the help of Ty Gonser and his John Deere tractor.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, 20 hours later, the Andersons heard their rescuers.
“I started banging on the ceiling and window and honking the horn. They heard me banging… They’d seen a strange snow formation. That’s how they knew it was us. They would never have found us if not for that. It was an act of God.”
They broke through the windshield and pulled out the shivering, and very grateful, pair.
Both Betty and Jimmy spent a little time in the hospital before being sent home. By Tuesday, they were staying with their daughter because the pipes were frozen at their house. As for their Ford, it’s still stuck on that treacherous New Mexico road.
[Image via igor.stevanovic/Shutterstock]