California woman found alive after 6 days stuck in snow-covered vehicle

Clay Curtis
January 17, 2020

A missing woman with dementia survived for six days trapped in a snow-covered SUV in the Northern California mountains - until she was rescued this week, local authorities said.

About noon Wednesday, a sheriff's helicopter was flying over the Butte Meadows area when a sergeant spotted a vehicle below, covered in snow, about three miles from the Bambi Inn.

There was no response to the hovering, which caused searchers to doubt they would find James alive, Honea said.

Authorities say it is unclear how long James was in the area, but that she was visibly cold when two search and rescue authorities transported her to paramedics.

James, of Oroville, was last seen on January 9 at her home.

James' disappearance prompted California Highway Patrol officials to issue a silver alert, which was deactivated when she was found. Deputies from the Sheriff's Office shared flyers with a photo of her and her vehicle model on social media.

"She was awake and conscious, and she looked at them and said, 'I'm very cold right now".

The sheriff's office had previously said that James "suffers from dementia and may have become disoriented".

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The sheriff's office added that BCSO deputies, detectives, search and rescue crews and pilots spent more than 100 hours searching for James.

"This morning we thought she was probably dead", Powell told FOX40. It's literally a miracle that they found her in just the knick of time, ' said Powell.

Her family said she stayed alive by periodically turning on the heat of the auto, which was buried in the snow, and by keeping warm with blankets.

James was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition, police said Wednesday.

A silver alert had been issued for James after she was reported missing, but family members said after six days they were expecting to hear the worst.

"Thank you Butte county sheriff's and everybody involved in the search".

James was found about 200 miles northeast of San Francisco and around 50 miles north of her home. As the days dragged on, her family anxious they'd never see her again. "They want above and beyond, and we really appreciate them for that", Powell said.

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