Eric Rose

After spending three days stuck in the snow, Eric Rose decided he had to find help for his family.

As People reports, 32-year-old Eric Rose, his wife, Francesca Watson, and their 10-month-old daughter were on the way from Silver City, Idaho, to California. However, the bad weather was becoming a problem. Watson told KTVB:

“The roads were pretty slippery and stuff so we decided to take a shortcut that he [Eric] was familiar with and ended up getting stuck in the snow.”

That was on February 7. For three days, the family sat in their Chevrolet Suburban. They used a cracker tin to melt snow over the car’s heater so that they could mix the water with formula for baby bottles.

But after three days, they were running low on gas. The worried father began thinking about getting help. As Watson explained to KTVB:

“After the fourth day of him being really thirsty and him getting tired of drinking snow and what not, he decided to go for help, see if he could find help or get phone reception.”

Watson went with her husband as far as a nearby cabin, but the building was empty. Determined to find supplies, help, or at least a cellphone signal, Eric left his wife in the cabin and went back out in the snow.

“I did not accept it, it was just something he had to do,” Watson said.

Eric’s sister later said that she’s sure her brother “did not walk out there for his own benefit. He did it because he thought he had to, to save his family. I know he didn’t think he had a choice.”

Eric left the cabin and his wife behind on February 10. A cousin told KTVB that “he told [his wife] he would be back in a few minutes, and he never returned.”

Watson spent the night in the truck with their baby and then came back to the cabin. Alone and worried about her husband, the mom spent another three days in the cabin, trying to keep her baby alive.

From time to time, she would go back to the truck, concerned that no one would find them back at the cabin. It wasn’t until February 15 — more than a week after they got stranded — that help arrived. A miner, passing through the area on a snowmobile, found the mom and baby in the truck and brought them to a nearby town.

With Watson and the baby now safe and healthy — except for some frostbite on the mom’s nose — attention turned to finding the missing dad. However, the area is a difficult one to search. One local told CBS 2:

“The first thing they should know about going to the back country and the Owyhees or any place out in this area is that they shouldn’t go. That’s probably the first thing because anybody could get caught out there. The experienced ones can get stranded too. Believe me, I know.”

Eric’s mother, Kellie Rose, told CBS 2 that the family is happy Watson and the baby are OK. She said she understands what drove her son to risk his life:

“We’re just so grateful that […] they’re back with us. In some sense, we’re grateful that my son tried to walk out and tried to find help, because in those back areas in the Owyhee Mountains, sometimes people don’t traverse those roads for weeks on end.”

Watson says she wouldn’t be alive without the cabin, and the family is now contemplating leaving caches of supplies for others in the same situation.

The family has accepted that it’s unlikely anyone will find Eric alive, though they still hope for closure. On Tuesday, the Owyhee County Sheriff’s Office suspended the search for Eric due to an impending storm. They say they now consider it a recovery mission.

Eric’s sister told KTVB that they know they might not get the answers they hope for and are willing to be patient and wait:

“We understand why our brother felt he had to hike out. Once we were there we understood why he felt he had to go get help and I think that’s brought us a bit of peace.”

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