BAKER CITY, Ore. – A 76-year-old woman missing for almost two weeks in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon has been found alive, the Baker County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.
Ora Doris Anderson of Sandy had a hip injury and was dehydrated when she was found just after 2 p.m. But she was conscious and alert, the sheriff's office said in a news release. A helicopter team went to extricate her from the rugged terrain, and she was airlifted to a Baker City hospital.
George Winn, the CEO of St. Elizabeth Health Services, said late Thursday that Anderson was in critical, but stable condition and was being admitted to the intensive care unit.
Anderson, who goes by Doris, was found by a Baker County deputy and an Oregon State Police trooper in an area that had already been searched.
A message left with Anderson's husband, Harold Anderson, was not returned. Iris Anderson, 71, who is married to Harold's brother, Melvin, credited the miraculous survival to prayer and Anderson's healthy lifestyle.
"How she managed to live for two weeks at the bottom of canyon, I don't know," Anderson said. "It took a lot more stamina than I have, I believe."
Doris Anderson had last been seen Aug. 24 in the Eagle Creek area, where she had gone bow hunting with her 74-year-old husband. Iris Anderson said Doris isn't much for hunting, but didn't want her husband going alone after his hunting partner had to cancel.
The Andersons drove into the rugged mountains and canyons in a Chevy Tahoe pulling a utility trailer. The vehicle got stuck, and Harold Anderson broke his wrist while unloading an all-terrain vehicle from the trailer.
The couple tried to walk to a main U.S. Forest Service road for help but became exhausted. Harold Anderson said his wife headed back for the vehicle. A hunting party later found a disoriented Harold Anderson, but there was no sign of his wife.
About 70 volunteers a day combed the mountains for several days looking for Doris Anderson until the search was scaled back in late August.
Overnight temperatures have dipped into the 30s over the last two weeks, and she was lightly dressed. Authorities had largely given up hope.
"I don't think there is very much chance of her being alive, not in that area," Sheriff Mitch Southwick said last week.
Iris Anderson said Harold and the couple's two daughters were also starting to lose hope, especially when the search got scaled back.
"I think he kind of reconciled that she was gone and in heaven with her son who died years ago," she said.
But Iris Anderson said she had a strong sense that Doris was alive, but hidden in the brush. She lit candles and asked to God to help.
"My prayers are always answered, always," she said.