Finding 86 year old McCloud woman Theresa Glenn after she was lost for five days in cold weather without food or water was 'like a miracle,' according to Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey.
After five days without food, water or shelter, 86 year old Theresa Glenn and her dog were found alive Thursday morning in McCloud.
The exhaustive search that started after Glenn disappeared while walking her dog Saturday afternoon, April 11, involved numerous law enforcement agencies and concerned citizens.
A Search and Rescue ground team found Glenn in an area of wilderness timber with heavy windfall of large trees, said out-going Siskiyou County Search and Rescue coordinator Deputy Celeste Fowler.
“The searcher was climbing over a downed tree of huge diameter and saw the dog,” Fowler said. “Then he saw Theresa on her side laying down. He thought she was deceased; he called her name and she turned toward him.”
The missing woman was discovered about a mile up the hill beyond a railroad car “graveyard” past the end of Haul Road, according to Jolene Kirkpatrick, the Mount Shasta Ambulance Emergency Medical Technician brought to the site to medically evaluate Glenn after she was found.
“Her vitals were stable and she was in what we call an altered level of consciousness,” Kirkpatrick said. “Ms. Glenn knew who she was but not where she was or how she had gotten there.”
Glenn is reported to have a history of short term memory loss and suffers from early stages of Alzheimers.
Finding Glenn alive after five days without food, water, or shelter “is the most amazing thing I’ve seen in my career,” Kirkpatrick said.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said, “We really saw a miracle in this one. Normally, after five days, especially at Theresa Glenn’s age without consuming water and in cold temperatures, we do a recovery – not a rescue.”
Glenn was airlifted from the area by a California Highway Patrol helicopter to Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta where she was treated before being transported to the Mercy Medical Center in Redding for further medical evaluation and further treatment, according to a press release.
Martin Glenn, the missing woman’s son, said his mother’s nine year old shepherd mix, Harley, was “dehydrated but OK” when found. “He drank a gallon of water.”
He expressed deep gratitude for the tremendous effort that had resulted in his mother’s rescue.
“I want to thank this fabulous town and all the people who put their heart and faith into supporting and helping in the search for my mother,” he said.
McCloud resident Robin Hickman reported that it “went like wildfire that Theresa was found. It’s like a miracle. Those are some big woods out there.”
She said many of the residents who looked for Glenn grew up in McCloud and know the area. More recent arrivals, “people I wouldn’t have thought would be out there,” joined the search as well.
Folks would run into each other as they searched and think “sooner or later she’s going to be found,” Hickman said. “Thank God everyone kept looking.”
She said Search and Rescue deserves a lot of credit.
“When I saw their maps, I understood how much land they were searching and how many times they kept going over the same ground. Just because she wasn’t there one day didn’t mean she wasn’t going to be there the next,” she said.
Search and Rescue
Fowler explained that SAR teams first establish the most probable area in which a missing person might be found using a statistical analysis of attributes such as the person’s likely hiking ability, physical state, and mental state.
“About 75 percent of people similar to Theresa are found within 1.5 miles of the place they were last seen,” she said.
The place Glenn was last seen was established via a video of her walking away from town, according to information posted on the SAR Facebook page. That location was pinpointed on a map at the center of a circle with a diameter of 1.5 miles, and the search began.
Members of the ground team that ultimately discovered Glenn on Thursday moved in a long line through terrain heavily covered with downed trees and brush, calling out to her.
They were within the 1.5 mile diameter established for the search, but in a part of the landscape in which it was unlikely the missing woman would be found, Fowler said. “It was tough going even for the people who were younger and physically fit – it was not probable she’d be in there.”
Fowler said the teams had to look “under, over, around, and through” everything in the forest. “You can’t really appreciate what that means unless you’re familiar with the terrain. If we were in Kansas, we could have looked across the fields and found her within an hour.”
Not only had SAR been looking through the area methodically and thoroughly, they had also been calling out to Glenn for days, a procedure called a “sound sweep.”
“She was unresponsive to the sound sweeps, but we didn’t know why,” Fowler said.
She said it may never be known whether or not, or to what extent, the missing woman moved around during the time searchers were looking for her.
“There were several areas close to where we found her that looked as if the pine needles had been brushed aside, possibly for her to bed down. But Theresa could not confirm that. She knows she slept in the woods, but not where,” Fowler reported.
Although SAR contacted the manufacturer of the shoes Glenn was believed to be wearing, it was difficult to be sure whether tracks seen were hers.
“Much of this area is a popular one for walking dogs. We saw prints that matched her shoe size but could never be sure they were hers,” Fowler said.
After Glenn was found, her shoes were positively matched to several footprints near her location.
Search and Rescue ground teams search roads and trails first, then look by quadrant, then by what SAR calls “searchable sections,” as the search expands out, according to Fowler.
All searchers wear GPS tracking devices set in tracking mode. Once activated, “every step will make a line on the map once the person gets back to the base and uploads the information to the map, so we have accurate information about what has and has not been searched,” she reported.
She confirmed that areas are searched more than once to increase the probability of detection. The same area may also be searched at different times using different resources such as clue seekers, trackers, K-9 units, and air support.
More than 200 searchers
The search for Theresa Glenn involved mutual aid from multiple agencies, according to a Siskiyou County Sheriff’s press release.
SCSO law enforcement personnel and SAR volunteers were joined by trained SAR teams from Shasta, Plumas, Lassen, Tehama and Butte counties in California as well as Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Curry counties in Oregon.
Also searching were US Forest Service firefighters; search dog teams from the California Rescue Dog Association and California Oregon Regional Search and Rescue; California Highway Patrol; California Fish and Wildlife personnel; and the Jackson County Sheriff.
“More than 200 people, mostly volunteers, participated in the tireless search for Ms. Glenn. Private citizens and companies in the local area also contributed resources to the search effort,” Sheriff Lopey stated in the release.
Volunteer members of the McCloud Fire Department also joined the efforts to find Glenn, and McCloud Community Services District Manager Wayne Grigsby helped the SCSO gain access to gated sections of the area before the search began.
‘Like a family’
People from McCloud searched for his mother “night and day on their bikes and on foot with their dogs,” right alongside of the Search and Rescue and other law enforcement agencies, Martin Glenn said.
Hickman pointed out that McCloud is much like a family, a small community that still has a sense of togetherness “like when Weed did for Weed after the fire. That’s what McCloud does. This town rallies when it needs to. The basic old time values are still here.”
She noted that there are sometimes issues dividing the community. “But when something like this happens, we don’t even think about that. We just go.”
After Glenn had been missing for a couple of days, Hickman sent out a Facebook post asking people to leave their porch lights and some indoor lights burning all night.
“We need to light her way,” Hickman posted. She said a lot of people responded.