A woman stranded in a California forest during heavy snowfall survived in her car for six days on a six-pack of yogurt and snow until she was finally rescued, officials said.
Justin Lonich, 48, and Sheena Gullett, 52, were driving to their hometown of Little Valley, California, on dirt roads off Highway 44 on Thursday April 14 when their vehicle got stuck in the snow in a remote area of Lassen County.
They spent the night in the car but by morning the vehicle’s battery was dead, the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
The duo tried to walk back to Highway 44 but Sheena began falling behind because the soles of her boots had come off, the release said.
Lonich continued walking ahead and they eventually became separated. When he tried to look back for her, he couldn’t find Gullett due to heavy snowfall, officials said.
For two days he walked and built campfires out in the woods, until he reached Highway 44 on Sunday April 17. From there, he hitched a ride to Susanville where he reported Gullett as stranded in the forest to the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office.
It was difficult at first for the sheriff’s office to narrow down a search perimeter because Lonich was not familiar with the area or roads they were traveling on.
Sheriff’s deputies and the U.S. Forest Service conducted ground searches every day. On one day, the California Highway Patrol conducted a helicopter search without success in locating Gullett and further air searches couldn’t be conducted due to “inclement weather.”
Finally, on Wednesday April 20, the vehicle was found by a sheriff’s sergeant.
“Immediately upon his arrival, Sheena came out of the vehicle. She was very emotional, but physically okay,” the sheriff’s office said.
She was transported to the Board Ranger Station to be evaluated by medical personnel. She provided the sheriff’s office with the same details Lonich did on how they became separated.
She told officials that for the six days she was stranded she rationed a six-pack of yogurt, eating one per day. She also ate snow because she did not have any water.
She said she saw the helicopter search for her, but because she was in a heavily wooded area, they couldn’t spot her.
Gullett is now safe and back home, the sheriff’s office said.