Families safe after rescue in Sipsey Wilderness

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. – A group of moms and 11 children were found safe in the Sipsey Wilderness after going missing Wednesday afternoon in the Bankhead National Forest.

Reports say the group started the Thompson Trail on Wednesday morning around 11:00 a.m. And according to the sheriff’s office, the group’s cars were located at the trailhead around 11:15 p.m. last night.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office said they sent a small crew into the forest and located the group around 3:50 a.m. Thursday morning. According to the sheriff’s office, they were located 8 miles into the forest and about 2 hours from the trail.

The Lawrence County Sheriff said everyone was off the trail by 9:15 a.m. Thursday.

“They had a lot of children, so they were ready to get out. And that’s why I said they were excited to get out,” said Chief Deputy Tim Sandlin. “So it was kind of a slow process to make sure that everyone was able to get out but we were able to do that so.”

The youngest of the group was reported to be 18-months-old.

No injuries were reported.

WHNT News 19 meteorologist Christina Edwards says the group was lucky that hypothermia did not set in.

“When the group set out on their hike at 11 a.m. Wednesday, air temperatures were in the low 60s,” Edwards says.

“However, by 8 p.m., temperatures had dropped into the upper 40s, and they continued to fall into the low 40s shortly before the group was found.”

Edwards recommends that hikers check the weather conditions before hitting the trails, noting any change in wind speed, direction, and temperature trends. She also recommends noting the daily sunset, and to aim to be off the trail and back in the parking lot 10 minutes before sunset.

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