ST. GEORGE — An 87-year-old woman from Washington City was reportedly “near her death” when she was found by rescuers on the Arizona Strip Tuesday after being stuck and lost in the desert since Sunday.
On Wednesday, family friends of Camille Humphrey reported that she was listed in “critical condition” in the intensive care unit at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George. By Thursday evening, hospital officials downgraded Humphrey’s condition to “fair” as her health improved.
Humphrey and her friend, 83-year-old Peggy Sower, set out Sunday morning to visit a friend at Dixie Regional Medical Center before going for a drive near the St. George Regional Airport. At some point during their Sunday morning drive, the two women took a wrong turn and got lost.
At around 11 a.m., their vehicle became stuck on a muddy, remote road near Mud Mountain in an area known as the Arizona Strip, just south of St. George. When the vehicle ran out of gas, around 5:30 p.m., Humphrey decided to walk away from the vehicle to search for help.
At about 2 p.m. Monday, Arizona Game and Fish officers came across the vehicle stuck in the mud several miles south of St. George with Sower still inside and no sign of Humphrey.
A Department of Public Safety Air Rescue helicopter crew assisted the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office in a search and rescue operation for Humphrey. After an extensive search, the Ranger 42 helicopter and its crew, located the woman “near her death” Tuesday at approximately 1 p.m., according to a media statement issued Thursday by ADPS.
An Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger 42 helicopter was launched to assist Mohave County Sheriff’s Office in the search. The crew responded to the last known point where ground searchers had tracked Humphrey’s direction of travel.
Ground crews were able to locate Humphrey’s tracks, but determined she was “wandering with no specific direction,” according to the statement. Humphrey had left the dirt road system and was in the open desert, which prompted an aerial grid search by the helicopter crew.
The helicopter crew eventually located Humphrey more than 10 miles away from her vehicle.
“The elderly woman was found lying on the ground and motionless behind a bush,” ADPS said in the statement. “She moved one arm as Ranger 42 circled overhead in an apparent attempt to get the crew’s attention.”
The ADPS pilot landed the helicopter and a paramedic began treating the severely dehydrated woman. Humphrey was suffering from exposure to the elements and from lack of food and water.
Humphrey was too weak to sit up without assistance and was flown to Dixie Regional Medical Center for treatment.
Humphrey’s family issued the following statement Friday morning:
The family of Camille Humphrey would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Land Management, Mohave County Sheriff’s Department (sic), Arizona Department of Public Safety, St. George Police Department, Washington City Police and Sheriff Departments (sic), and the Dixie Regional Medical Center. Their extraordinary collaborative efforts brought our mom home to us alive.
It is a miracle she would survive this experience with no major injuries. Thank you to the many people who prayed for her safe return. All of our prayers were answered. At this time, restoring her health is our primary focus so she continues to recover at Dixie Regional Medical Center.
Terri Draper, spokesperson for Intermountain Healthcare’s southwest region and Dixie Regional Medical Center, confirmed Humphrey’s condition Friday morning was “fair.”
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic and reporter Julie Applegate contributed to this report.
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