40 rescued hikers head home

March 9, 2013 at 10:45 PM

WHITESBURG, Ky., March 9 (UPI) -- Forty students from a Philadelphia college rescued after getting lost on a Kentucky mountain trail at night, headed back to school Saturday, officials said.

The La Salle University students, who were in Kentucky to help out Habitat for Humanity during their spring break, got lost while hiking on Pine Mountain in Letcher County Thursday.

Emergency crews found the students on the mountain's "High Rock" area Thursday night, WYMT-TV, Hazard, Ky., reported.

The hikers had been making their way to Bad Branch Falls, a popular tourist spot, but found themselves in trouble when night fell and they didn't have any flashlights.

"They were not prepared to be out at night," said Paul Miles, the county's emergency management director, adding the hikers weren't wearing proper clothing and footwear for the trek.

State police found the group's general location with help from the hikers' cellphone signals and a rescue team reached them shortly after midnight.

They were taken to Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Healthcare, where they were given warm food and blankets. Five were treated for exposure to the cold but there were no serious injuries, the TV station said.

"By far the most emotional part was when the phone calls went out to the parents, things like 'Mom I'm OK but ... .' No parent ever wants to get the phone call that their child is in the emergency room," hospital Chief Executive Officer Dena Sparkman said.

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