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Hikers rescued from Franklin Mountains will be billed

A family hike turned into a mountain rescue –and now, it turned into a big bill.

That’s because the City of El Paso will try to recover some of the costs of the rescue from the family who was lost. The cost is based on the number of rescuers who responded to the call and the terrain they worked in.

“We don’t normally staff all of our specialty personnel at the same time. We had to call 20 off-duty members” to assist during Monday’s rescue, El Paso Fire Department Chief Chris Celaya said.

It costs $165 per hour per unit that gets sent out, said Celaya. The price is set by city council.

Investigators said people in a family of 10 got lost while hiking at the Franklin State Park in northwest El Paso. Investigators said they initially received a call about hikers suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Investigators said the family of ten had split in three, but eventually got lost during nearly 100-degree weather. Two of them managed to make it down and call for help. The others consisted of five children and three adults.

Forty-two firefighters, search and rescue personnel and police officers were called out to search for them.

“The team is highly trained. There are rope technicians, wilderness EMTs and paramedics,” explained El Paso Fire Department Captain Frank Perry.

“When we arrived on the scene, we found a whole bunch of people who were without water,” said El Paso Fire Cpt. Kris Menendez. “They didn’t plan accordingly and the sun beat them down,” he said.

During the hiking trip, investigators say one of the children suffered an asthma attack, and a teenager hurt her knee.

“My mother called me and told me my kids were lost in the mountains and i just came here,” said the mother of one of rescued victims Erica Chavez.

Investigators say it took crews about three hours to locate the family.

“They were very tired, I wouldn’t say there were crying, but you could tell that they were about to break into tears. Some of the kids were sunburned, they were taking off their clothes they were so hot. They were trying to adapt, but its pretty hard when you don’t have water and plan accordingly. They were definitely in a dire state of emergency,” Menendez said.

The child and teenager in need of medical attention were flown to University Medical Center.

“It was really scary. I have no words. It was really scary.” Chavez said.

ABC-7 asked Menendez how a crisis like this can be avoided. He said the number one thing to remember is plan for the trip back. He said it was the return trip that caught up with this family.

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