The Lassen County Sheriff’s Office says on Monday, April 18, Justin Lonich, 48, reported that he and Sheena Gullett, 52, had been driving on dirt roads off of Highway 44 during harsh weather conditions.
After driving for several miles, their vehicle became stuck in the snow on Thursday, April 14. The two spent a night in their vehicle, and the next morning, they say they noticed their vehicle’s battery had died.
According to Lieutenant Dave Woginrich, the two attempted to walk back to Highway 44. Gullett, however, fell behind after the soles of her boots had worn out. The two got separated in the snow not long after.
Lonich tried to find Gullett but the heavy snowfall prevented him from doing so. He eventually found shelters and started campfires. He did that for two days before he reached Highway 44 on Sunday and hitched a ride into Susanville from a passerby.
Lonich then reported his experience to the sheriff’s office, telling them that Gullett was possibly stranded in the forest with their vehicle.
Authorities say because Lonich was unfamiliar with the area and roads they traveled, it was hard for officials to narrow down a search area. Sheriff’s deputies, sergeants, detectives, and U.S. Forest Service personnel conducted ground searches.
When the weather cleared, California Highway Patrol flew a helicopter over the search area in coordination with the ground team. More searches from the air couldn’t be performed due to bad weather.
After several hours of searching Sunday, a sheriff’s sergeant located the vehicle. Gullett was found inside “very emotional, but physically okay.” Searchers say Gullet appeared to have no injuries and was sent to Bogard Ranger Station to be further evaluated by medical personnel.
Gullet survived the six days by rationing a six-pack of yogurt, eating one each day, while also eating snow since she had no water, the sheriff’s office said. She said she had seen the helicopter fly by earlier but was in a heavily wooded area so authorities were unable to see her.