Tonight, ABC News’ In An Instant will center on the heroic tale of Kenny Pasten, his dog, Rex, and his friend, Tiffany Finney, who embarked on a one-day hike that turned into a night of disaster in 2015.
Read on to learn more about Pasten and Finney, and their experience hiking in the San Bernardino National Forest.
1. Pasten and Finney Intended to Plant an American Flag at the Summit
In December 2015, Kenny Pasten, 29, and Tiffany Finney, 21, were planning to hike 11,500-feet to the top of San Gorgonio in the San Bernardino National Forest to plant a flag that Pasten had received for being an Honor Guard serviceman.
The mountain was the highest point in Southern California, which made the fact that the weather took a turn for the worse all the more dangerous. According to Finney, the trip was supposed to be just a one day hike.
The pair started the hike on Sunday from Forest Falls to the top of Mount San Gorgonio. They built an overnight shelter on the mountain when the weather became dangerous. It wasn’t until about 8am Monday morning that Pasten was able to get cell reception. He had taken Finney’s phone and trekked just far enough to get a signal to call 911. According to ABC, Pasten was able to send his GPS coordinates to the police just before the phone died.
Rescuers found Pasten before finding Finney. Both were found in dire conditions.
2. Both Suffered From Hypothermia
Though the hike was supposed to be over within a day, Finney and Pasten found themselves in sub-zero temperatures and a severe storm. Speaking to reporters after the incident, Pasten told CBS Local Los Angeles, “It went from bright and sunny to two feet of snow in a matter of about ten minutes.”
Both Finney and Pasten suffered from hypothermia. Speaking to CBS Los Angeles, Pasten said, “I was shivering so strong, so hard that I actually whipped my back and hurt my back and my neck and that’s when I said, ‘If we stay here, we’re gonna die.’”
When the pair was found, both had severe frostbite and body temperatures in the ’80s.
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3. Pasten Is an Army Veteran
Pasten, an army veteran, claims that his training kicked in, and helped him brave the weather. According to CBS Los Angeles, they dug a hole and used the sleeping bag and American flag for warmth.
Pasten’s dog, Rex (short for RexiTron), is a Belgian Malinois service dog, and helped his owners dig a hole under a tree that they used for warmth. Rex was mostly unharmed after the incident.
Authorities believe that Finney was 30 minutes away from death when they found her, reports NBC Los Angeles.
4. Finney Lost a Pinky Finger
Both Finney and Pasten suffered frostbite and Finney even lost a pinky finger in the ordeal. She tells the Los Angeles Times that she blacked out during a majority of the experience.
Pasten suffered moderate hypothermia and frostbite on his ears, toes, and fingers. According to the LA Times, he also suffered muscle and kidney damage. Eric Sherwin of the San Bernardino County Fire Department rescue team told NBC at the time, “That is probably most severe case of hypothermia I’ve seen in a conscious victim. [Finney] had about a half-hour left before we would have seen a fatal injury to the hiker.”
5. A Hiker Who Heard About the Story Finished Pasten’s Mission
According to ABC, a seasoned hiker heard about Pasten and Finney’s incredible story, and he and his father hiked the mountain to look for the frozen flag so he could carry out their mission.
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