Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cell signal on Mount Hood

The cell phone of one of three climbers lost on Mount Hood since the weekend received a signal from the cell phone company late Tuesday night, “indicating it was back on,” authorities said today.

The T-Mobile cell company has been signaling the cell phone since climber Kelly James, 48, used it to call his family Sunday, the AP reported.

On Wednesday, the company said the phone went silent the day before.

The Hood River County sheriff’s office said that at 10:55 p.m. Tuesday “T-Mobile received a signal on the phone indicating it was back on, when it had been off.”

The sequence of signals suggested that James may have been turning his cell phone off to conserve battery power, a possibility that brought hope to family members who have gathered near the mountain.

“My heart was in my throat when I heard that, because if it’s true it means Kelly is alive, and he has his wits about him,” his brother, Frank, of Orlando, Fla., said at a news conference.

Rescue workers confronted stormy weather on the mountain again today, and said they would be searching lower elevations in hopes that James’ two companions, Brian Hall of Dallas and Jerry “Nikko” Cooke of Brooklyn, N.Y., had gotten down from near the top of the mountain, where James was believed holed up in a snow cave.

Video shot Wednesday and shown on various news programs shared the brutal conditions the climbers and rescue teams and enduring.

James' wife, Karen, said at today's press conference that the families of the three men remained confident.

“While this is one of the worst weather days, our spirits are still high,” she said. “These are three of the most phenomenal men you could ever meet. They’re smart, they are strong, and they care so deeply for one another.

“My husband proposed to me on Mount Rainier, and we’re planning our 50th wedding anniversary there, so I know he is coming off thismountain."

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