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New Mexico hikers: First, a marriage proposal. Then, a rescue

January 12, 2012 | 12:45 pm

Lost hikers new mexico
Russell Vandemeer’s plan to propose to his girlfriend started out pretty well.

He and Karen Renshaw took their three dogs -- Stitch, Suzy and Griswald -- on a hike Monday at White Sands National Monument. Amid the sweep of white dunes in southern New Mexico, Vandemeer asked Renshaw to marry him. She said yes.

Then they couldn’t find their way back to their car.

Somehow, the Oklahoma couple had enough of a cellphone signal to call a relative, who contacted park officials just before sunset, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. The resulting nighttime search party included two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters from Texas’ Ft. Bliss and a F-22 Raptor from New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base.

Using infrared equipment, the Raptor pilot spotted the couple, the paper said. Then the helicopters scooped up Vandemeer, Renshaw and their dogs.

The couple invited the rescuers to their upcoming wedding.


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Photo: The early morning sun casts a golden glow on dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Credit: Karen Benke / Associated Press