By Christie Post - email
SILVER CITY (KCBD) – It was supposed to be a fun trip, but turned into four Lubbock Christian University students stranded for 16 hours. Two of four were hospitalized with hypothermia after the group ventured into the Florida mountains of Southwest Mexico.
Brittney Allison, 21, of Deming, was joined by three of her friends from school, Yu Gin Toh, 20, Grace Kang, 18, both from Malaysia, and Trey Akins, 19. Authorities said the group was under-dressed when they went hiking.
They started December 17th late in the afternoon on a sunny day. "I was wearing shorts and a light jacket. Grace was wearing jeans and a winter coat," said Brittney Allison, who was rescued from the mountain.
The young students went hiking in search of the summit, unaware of the treacherous terrain and bad weather ahead. While Allison and Kang headed for the peak, Akins and Toh stayed below taking pictures.
"At times they would be calling for us," said Yu Jin Toh, who was rescued from the mountain.
When the two girls got to the top of the mountain, they realized they were in trouble. They did not have water and the cliff was too steep to scale. "I felt like passing out, so I kept my face in my jacket," said Allison.
Luckily the hikers had cell phones to call 911. "I know they tried to find our coordinates from our phone, so that helped by them trying to locate us," said Allison.
The Deming Fire Department and search and rescue volunteers hiked the mountain blind from the fog through sleet and snow to reach the hikers.
"We could hear them calling us in the fog and then they would just get lost. I remember thinking are we ever going to get saved?," said Allison.
They were able to reach Toh and Akins, and made a fire to keep them warm. However the rescuers were not able to reach Allison and Kang for hours, who were cold and helpless through the freezing temperatures and unshielded from the biting wind.
"We would just yell at them and Grace had a camera and we would flash it at the rescuers," said Allison.
In order to reach them, Border Patrol officers had to use their helicopter to rescue the girls who spent the night stuck on a cliff.
"The helicopter came in the fog so we didn't know if they saw us or not," said Allison.
They were airlifted to Mimbres Memorial Hospital in Deming, where Brittney's core temperature was 87 degrees, and Graces' was 82 degrees. Both Trey and Yu Jin's temperatures were normal.
"Our internal organs were messed up from the hypothermia so we just kind of have to take it slow," said Allison.
The four students are out of the hospital and are resting. The group is thankful for those who saved them, but still feeling pain from the day they will never forget.
"Me and Grace both still can't feel our toes," said Allison.
(Philip Casteel contributed to this report)
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