Missing California Woman Found Alive After 6 Days Buried in Her SUV

A California woman was found alive, buried by snow in her SUV, almost a week after she was reported missing.


Image via Getty/Niall Carson - PA Images

Cars buried in snow in Naas, Co Kildare.

On Wednesday, a California woman who had been reported missing for six days was found alive in an SUV covered with snow roughly 50 miles north of where she lived. According to a press release the Butte County Sheriff's office, her vehicle was about 150 yards off the road.

That woman, 68-year-old Paula Beth James, was located by a search helicoptor that managed to see her inside her Toyota 4Runner in the Butte Meadows, a remote area residing in the mountains north of Sacramento.

James, who has dementia according to her family, was reportedly conscious and speaking. She was treated at the Enloe Medical Center, according to a sheriff's office spokesperson. "We are all grateful for this fortunate outcome and wish her a speedy recovery," they added.

Temperatures in the area that James was found reportedly hit the low 30s earlier this week. And mountain travel had been "highly discouraged" by the National Weather Service as a heavy winter snow storm was expected to hit.

Authorities aren't certain how long James had been in the area, but they state she was visibly cold when she was saved by a pair of search and rescue teams. “She was awake and conscious. And she looked at them and she said, ‘I’m very cold, I hope you brought a blanket,’” reported spokesperson Megan McMann.

Family members report that she stayed warm by occasionally turning on the heat, in addition to utilizing the blankets and floormats in her vehicle. Her family further reports that she was severley dehydrated and frostbitten upon discovery.

James had last been seen on January 9. And her rescue was the culmination of more than 100 hours of searching from local crews.

"It just felt like we were doomed," said James' stepdaughter Laura Powell. "So, it was just literally a miracle that those guys found her in just the nick of time." 

“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,” she added. 

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