Search Crews Rescue Father, Children in Congaree Park

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The National Park Service rescued a father and his two children Tuesday morning who were missing in the Congaree National Park for over two days.

J.R. Kimbler, his 10-year-old son Dakota, and his 6-year-old daughter Jade were found around 8 a.m. on a trail approximately two miles from the park's visitor's center. The family had not been heard from since Saturday night.

Previous: Mom of Missing Children: 'We Can't Find Them'

Dana Soehn with the Congaree National Park says ranger Jared Gurtler made voice contact with the group while on patrol. Department of Natural Resources ATVs were then sent in to retrieved the group and take them back to the main entrance of the park.

"They were coherent, they were stable, they had big smiles when they came in," Soehn said.

Gurtler said he was on patrol around 4:30 a.m. and was yelling out to see if he could hear the missing people. He says before daybreak is often the best time to hear faint sounds.

"During the daylight hours, when the birds are making their noises, you just can't hear anything,' Gurtler said. "The best window of opportunity to hear human voices in the wilderness is going to be at night."

"I was just hollering names, I was hollering JR Kimbler's name," he went on to say. "I listened harder and I called back and a I confirmed that it was a human voice."

He heard all of their voices, and eventually saw them as well. He was able to get them some bottled water.

"When I started talking to them we carried on a normal conversation," Gurtler said.

From what the father was able to tell him, Gurtler said the group got off course when they left a bridge and traveled straight rather than on the trail. He said the family had something to drink when they first started walking on Saturday, but that was the last food or water they had until Tuesday.

The rescue teams have been searching for over two days inside the 27,000 acre park, after the father and two children went on a hiking excursion at Congaree. Kimbler sent a text message to a co-worker that read "I'm lost. I need help."

Previous: Family, Friends Hopeful For Safe Rescue

News 19 will report live from the Congaree National Park later Tuesday morning, and as we receive additional information, it will be provided here and on-air on News 19, WLTX.

The National Park Service will provide additional information regarding the rescue later Tuesday morning.


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