Missing Hiker Found After Being Lost for 4 Days in Remote Area of Eastern California
A California woman has been found by rescue searchers after she and her dog were missing for four days.
The woman, 60-year-old Sheryl Powell, was found on Monday in a remote area of Big Pine, California near the Nevada border, shortly after her dog was discovered by the search team, the Inyo County Sheriff’s office announced via Facebook.
Powell, a Huntington Beach resident, has been described as an experienced hiker — which helped her survive for four days on her own.
“She was described as extremely resilient and her hiking skills came into play,” Carma Roper, a spokesperson for the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, tells PEOPLE. “She adapted after being lost for more than four days.”
Powell was discovered around 2 p.m. on Monday by a ground search team, “right below where her dog was located.”
“We are so elated and I am sure her family is thrilled,” Roper says. “It has been a long ordeal for them. Everybody is just elated for this to be a happy conclusion to this four day search. It is fantastic.”
The Inyo County Sheriff’s office said on Facebook that Powell and her dog were first reported missing on July 12 by her husband, whom she was camping with at the Grandview Campground in the Bristlecone Pine Forest area.
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After Powell and her husband, Joe, picked out a “remote” campsite, she got out of their Jeep to give the dog a bathroom break while Joe repositioned the car.
“Mr. Powell could not locate Mrs. Powell or their dog once he parked the Jeep,” police said in the Facebook post. “After searching for almost an hour, Mr. Powell alerted law enforcement through his satellite device.”
In addition to ground search teams, dog teams and aerial reconnaissance were provided in the search for Powell, who authorities described as “resilient and strong, but exhausted” after being found. A GoFundMe Campaign set up by the family on Saturday raised nearly $30,000 to aid in search efforts.
Police have not yet commented on how Powell went missing, but the family says that she was trying to escape a man that was trying to rape her, according to KTLA.
Powell’s son Greg told the outlet that a man “brandishing a knife” came at her while Joe was still in the car, and told her “if she didn’t give him what he wanted he was going to knife the dog.”
The family said the she avoided main roads in fear of the man, and that she survived by drinking water and eating cactus fruit, according to KTLA’s report.
Inyo County police have yet to comment on the circumstances of Powell’s disappearance, but said an update to the Facebook post that they are currently “actively investigating.”
The terrain in which Powell was lost is dangerous; police said that “[c]hallenges include multiple gullies, shale slopes, low shade, direct sun, and rattlesnakes.”
“I can’t underscore enough how wonderful it is to have a happy conclusion to this and bring her home safely to her family,” Roper tells PEOPLE.
Powell was taken to a nearby hospital after being found.
“SHES ALIVE!!! This is the happiest day of our lives. We can’t thank everyone enough!!!!!!!” Powell’s daughter, Farrah, said in a Facebook post on Monday, including a photo of the family from Powell’s hospital bed.