Woman missing in Butte County for six days is found alive

James was discovered alive in her snowbound sports utility vehicle in Northern California.					Butte County Sheriff’s Office

James was discovered alive in her snowbound sports utility vehicle in Northern California. Butte County Sheriff’s Office

The family of a woman with dementia who survived for six days in her snowbound SUV in Northern California said they feared the worst.

"The pilot landed the helicopter and two BCSO employees hiked to the vehicle, which was located approximately 150 yards off the road on Skyway, and located James alive".

James was last seen on the evening of January 9 in Oroville, California, causing the Butte County Sheriff's Office to issue a "silver alert" showing a picture of her smiling and an image of her SUV.

When Sheriff Honea received news from his staff that James' SUV had been found, he thought they were going to find her dead inside, he told reporters.

The 68-year-old was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon and is now in a stable condition, authorities said.

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

"It just felt like we were doomed", her stepdaughter, Laura Powell, told CNN affiliate KTXL. Sheriff's officials released photos of emergency personnel hoisting James, who was on a stretcher, over snowy terrain from the lopsided SUV and onto the back of the Sno-Cat.

Authorities spent more than 100 hours searching for James with helicopters, snowmobiles and other methods, with a winter storm looming over their efforts. "So, it was just literally a miracle that those guys found her in just the nick of time".

Her family said she stayed warm by periodically turning on the vehicle for heat and staying warm with blankets and floor mats from inside the SUV.

"We are all grateful for this fortunate outcome and wish her a speedy recovery", the sheriff's office wrote.

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

Once rescuers reached James, she was awake but slightly frostbitten and suffering from severe dehydration.

Butte Meadows is about 200 miles northeast of San Francisco.

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".

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