EUREKA COUNTY, Nev. - A search that began over the weekend in Boise intensified Monday afternoon with an AMBER Alert for a man and his two daughters - and concluded Monday night in the wilderness of Eureka County, Nev.
That's where search and rescue crews found the two girls, 6 and 7 years old, under a tree, in the rain.
The girls have been reunited with family in Boise, but are currently in the hospital being treated for exposure and are expected to be there for a few days.
Their father, Joshua Dundon, now faces two felony counts of custodial interference.
On Tuesday, we had a crew make the trip to Nevada to see, firsthand, where the girls were rescued. We met with ranchers who were there to find out how they were rescued.
KTVB crews also spoke to the woman who first encountered Dundon in Eureka County last week.
Kathy Porter and her husband, Lester, were hiking in the mountains to Richmond Spring on Thursday, several miles from where the girls were eventually found.
Dundon drove past them at the bottom of the hill where they parked their car. Kathy says Lester arrived at the top of the mountain before her and as he approached, he heard a man talking to a child behind the brush. The man and Lester could not see one another.
They heard a truck idling, and then the engine began to rev loudly. Moments later, the Porters walked to a small clearing and saw the truck speed in reverse right in front of them. The truck bounced and got stuck in the mud, and began idling again.
The Porters said they ran up to the truck to check if anyone was inside the cab, but instead, they found flames coming from what appeared to be the driver's seat.
They looked around but saw no one.
"My husband called out twice asking if the guy was OK and he popped out of the bushes, just with his head, and said in a very calm voice, 'Yeah, I'm OK,' just like nothing happened," Kathy Porter told KTVB. "So after his voice was so calm my husband and I looked at each other and he said we need to get out of here... so we walked down the hill as fast as we could to get help."
Kathy then heard a child crying softly, which made it hard for her to want to leave at that point. But as they headed down the hill she says she realized the man could be dangerous, and the best thing to do was call authorities.
"It's what anyone would do. Kids are involved, and that's just what you do," Porter added. "This community is very family-oriented and pretty much everything we do revolves around our children and so it takes a community to raise a child, so we're going to jump in and do what we can."
It wasn't until Sunday that Kathy realized who that man might be; thanks to a family friend, she had seen the Dundons' missing person's bulletin on Facebook.
"When I saw the description of the pickup truck and the picture, we said yeah, that's got to be him," Kathy added. "It sounds odd but it gave me a little peace to start feeling like we were getting somewhere, that we may know who was up there.
She called Eureka County Sheriff Keith Logan right away - and the investigation and search for the Dundons began. Logan applauds the Porters as being an integral and instrumental part in leading law enforcement to the Porters and connecting them to Eureka County.
"She wouldn't let anything go," Sheriff Logan told KTVB about Kathy Porter, "she's a mother and she cares and more than anything else, she has the humanity of caring and that's where she didn't hesitate to call. But when she got us that information, that gave us somewhere to go."
One day later, the AMBER Alert was issued - after experts were able to decipher the pick-up truck's VIN number and tie it to Joshua Dundon.
"We are very happy for the family that they aren't waiting and wondering anymore. It got pretty cold last night and the temperature was dropping and it was getting dark... God's hand was on those little girls directing everybody to them," Porter added.
Sheriff Logan says they called in several resources from around the area and activated an air and ground search in the mountains.
"The helicopter did fly in the near vicinity of them but they were hidden within the rocks, which obstructed their heat signature. We had the right assets deployed and they were certainly efforting, but just wasn't successful so we we were gearing up to do it again," Logan added.
The sheriff said search crews had been recovering various pieces of equipment in the area between the site where Dundon's truck burned - just outside of the central part of Eureka - and the top of the mountain.
"We recovered a backpack with ammunition and personal stuff, keys, those types of things, we had found it did have some children's clothing. We found two rifles, found knives, and earlier we found survival type tools. And each time it worried us that we were finding more and more of that stuff, which means they no longer have it to use. But it was all consistent with what was being reported to us with the investigation in Boise," Sheriff Logan said.
This terrifying situation that unfolded was surreal for people who live in Eureka County- a small mountainous area in central Nevada with a population of just 2,000 people.
The two little girls and their father were out in the elements in the mountains since Thursday; the area is high country and the mountains they were trekking through are steep, rocky and rugged. The weather over the last few days has been cold, overcast and rainy.
Jaylynn and Madison were found on a rugged mountain amid canyons, without any survival gear or appropriate clothing, under a tree and alone.
Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Joshua Dundon turned up at a ranch several miles away.
We talked to the Baumanns - who own the ranch - and they walked us through what happened.
Dundon left the girls in the afternoon and trekked about four or so miles to get down to the ranch.
Jim Baumann heard his dog barking, walked outside his shop and found a strange man in cut-off shorts, a hoodie and bare feet in his pasture. He told his wife, Vera, he thought it was Joshua Dundon - because he knew about the AMBER Alert situation.
Vera called 911, and after discovering he didn't have a gun on him, she brought Dundon to a chair on their porch, gave him coffee and asked him where the girls were. Dundon was weak and in tough shape, the Baummans added.
"His exact words were 'I knew we weren't going to make it so I better leave them and go for help,' " Vera said.
Law enforcement responded immediately and took Dundon into custody without incident.
Then around 50 people - including the Baumann family and other local ranchers and residents, volunteer search and rescue crews, the sheriff's office, fire department, EMS, Nevada Division of Investigators and the Bureau of Land Management - headed out on foot, ATVs, and horseback to search for Jaylynn and Madison in a four-mile area around the Baumann ranch.
It was an incredible community effort.
"There wasn't anybody that hesitated to help when we called," Sheriff Logan added. "It's a great community."
"Everybody just jumps in and helps," Vera said. "Yesterday there were people out there volunteering - I mean that mountain it was crawling with volunteers looking in each canyon."
Searchers found the girls under a tree on a mountain and rescued them around 7 p.m. Monday.
"I was proud to say that everyone here was able to keep a positive attitude and nobody wanted to think the worst and everybody kept working. And the AMBER Alert, having a successful story of something like that occurring is a rarity but it's a good thing and that's why we have those things."
People who live in Eureka County tell us they don't know if the girls would have made it through last night because it was so cold. Vera says it's also mountain lion country - so that combined with dangerous conditions: things could have become increasingly worse if they weren't rescued.
Officials tell us Madison and Jaylynn Dundon were hypothermic and dehydrated after being outside for four days.
People in this community say they're beyond relieved the girls were found safe and alive. They tell KTVB their prayers were answered.
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