A 68-year-old California woman with dementia who disappeared nearly a week ago was found alive on Wednesday in her snow-covered car.
Paula Beth James was located after a helicopter with the Butte County Sheriff’s Office spotted a vehicle that matched the description of her car, the sheriff’s office said in a press release on Wednesday. James was alive inside the car in the remote Butte Meadows area after going missing on Jan. 9.
According to the press release, James’ car was found covered in snow. The sheriff’s office’s search and rescue team responded with a Sno-Cat, and James was transported to a local hospital. She is “currently in stable condition,” authorities said.
Members of the sheriff’s office spent more than 100 hours searching for James, authorities said.
“We are all grateful for this fortunate outcome and wish her a speedy recovery,” the sheriff’s office said in the press release.
The sheriff’s office had previously said that James “suffers from dementia and may have become disoriented.”
According to CNN, authorities said James was visibly cold when she was found. The outlet reports that Butte Meadows saw temperatures in the low 30 degrees this week, and a winter storm is expected in the area soon.
“She was awake and conscious. And she looked at them and she said, ‘I’m very cold, I hope you brought a blanket,’ ” James’ stepdaughter Laura Powell told KTXL.
Her family told the outlet that James stayed warm in the snow-covered vehicle by occasionally turning on the car for heat and using blankets and floor mats from inside the vehicle.
“It just felt like we were doomed,” Powell told KTXL. “So, it was just literally a miracle that those guys found her in just the nick of time.”
She added: “I just am so thankful for the relief that everyone is going to have tonight knowing that she’s safe and warm and fed and we’ll get to bring her home soon.”