Message in a bottle helps rescue family trapped on California camping trip

A message in a bottle helped rescue a family stranded during a camping trip in central California.

When Curtis Whitson led his family to a gorge in June, the 44-year-old expected a rope would be there to let them down. But there was no rope.

Whitson, his girlfriend and 13-year-old son had no cell phone service and were trapped above a 40-foot waterfall.

In that act of desperation and perhaps inspiration, the family made an "S.O.S" sign out of rocks and Whitson scratched out the word 'Help' on his water bottle.

On a receipt inside, he wrote: "We are stuck at the waterfall - get help please."

That message in a bottle found its way to hikers downstream. They alerted authorities who launched a chopper.

The helicopter found the trio sleeping next to the "S.O.S." sign.

The family said it hadn't seen a single person during their three-day trip so they were shocked when they saw the California Highway Patrol chopper just hours after tossing the plastic bottle over the waterfall.
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