Woman stranded in California forest survives off yogurt, snow

A Northern California woman who was rescued this month after spending six days stranded on a remote dirt road near Lassen National Forest survived by eating yogurt and snow, authorities said.

According to the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office, Sheena Gullett, 52, and Justin Lonich, 48, were driving to the community of Little Valley on April 14.

The pair took a dirt road that branched off Highway 44, but their truck got stuck in the snow after several miles, deputies said. Gullett and Lonich, both of Little Valley, spent the night in their truck.

They awoke the next day to find their truck’s battery dead, deputies said.

As they tried to walk back to the highway to find help, Gullett fell behind when the soles of her boots came off, deputies said. Lonich, who was ahead, tried to find her but was unable because of the heavy snowfall.

Now alone, Lonich found shelter and built a campfire, deputies said. He continued walking the next day, April 16, until he reached a gravel road and found shelter for the night.

The next day, he was able to reach Highway 44, where he hitched a ride to the town of Susanville, deputies said. Lonich called authorities about 2:30 a.m. on April 18 to report what happened and launch a search for Gullett.

Initial efforts weren’t promising.

Lonich wasn’t familiar with the area or the roads they’d taken, deputies said. Personnel from the Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service conducted daily ground searches.

“On one day, when the weather was clear, the California Highway Patrol flew the search area in a helicopter in conjunction with a ground search team, but they were unable to locate the vehicle or Sheena,” deputies said. “Further searches from the air were unable to be conducted due to inclement weather.”

Authorities launched another search on Wednesday accompanied by Lonich. They hoped he could help guide them to where he and Gullett got stuck in the snow.

A sergeant found the truck about 3 p.m. after searching for several hours, deputies said.

“Immediately upon his arrival, Sheena came out of the vehicle,” deputies said.

The sergeant took her to the Bogard Ranger Station for a medical evaluation, deputies said. There, she shared her story.

Over the six days she was stranded, Gullett rationed a six-pack of yogurt, eating one container per day, deputies said. She had no water and ate snow to stay hydrated.

Gullett told authorities she saw a helicopter fly over her a few days before she was rescued, but tree cover was too thick for the air crew to see her, deputies said.

She was shaken but physically OK after her ordeal, deputies said.

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