A mother who was missing for four days in the California mountains with her dog says she got lost while fleeing a man with a knife who threatened to r
A mother who was missing for four days in the California mountains with her dog says she got lost while fleeing a man with a knife who threatened to rape her and stab her dog.
Sheryl Powell, 60, of Huntington Beach, vanished on Friday while her husband John parked their car near Grandview Campground in the White Mountains as they prepared to set up camp for the weekend.
She was found on Monday afternoon about 2.5 miles from where she was last seen when search teams heard her dog Miley barking.
After finally being reunited with her husband and two adult children, Powell told the Today show on Tuesday that she didn’t actually know if she would survive.
‘It was harrowing, I’m lucky I’m here,’ Powell said. ‘I’m doing okay, I’m just happy to be back with my family. I didn’t know if I’d make it.’
Sheryl Powell, 60, was found on Monday in a remote area in California’s White Mountains after she went missing four days earlier. She is pictured on Tuesday with her husband John and their two children Farrah and Greg
Powell is pictured recovering in hospital after she was missing for four days in the White Mountains. Here she is surrounded by husband John (left) and children Greg (center) and Farrah (right)
After finally being reunited with her husband and two adult children, Powell said that she didn’t actually know if she would survive
Powell said she was checking out the area near where she and her husband were going to set up camp when she encountered trouble. Her son had earlier revealed that she was peeing behind a tree at the time.
‘I was just going to go off for a few minutes with my dog while my husband parked the car. I love to hike and was just trying to check out the wilderness,’ she said.
‘Right away we ran into trouble… I didn’t know it would last four days.’
She said a ‘burly, bald-headed man with tanned skin’ approached and threatened her with a knife.
Powell said the man told her: ‘First thing that’s going to happen here is I’m going to use this knife on your dog. Then if you don’t let me have my way with you, I’ll use it on you’.
‘It scared me enough to act pretty docile and let him think I was going to go along with him,’ she said.
She then ran downhill with her dog to escape him.
‘He was pursuing me. I never saw him again after the first day,’ Powell said.
Powell, who is an experienced hiker, said she opted to walk during the night to avoid getting dehydrated and running into rattlesnakes.
‘I took the risk,’ she said.
‘I had to concentrate on how to get through this. I just wasn’t sure where my husband was.’
Rescuers spent four days searching for Powell and her Yorkipoo Miley (left). Trained ground and dog teams were deployed, along with a helicopter with thermal imaging (right), and volunteer search parties
Yorkipoo Miley (left) refused to leave her mother’s side and would eventually lead rescuers to find Powell on Monday
Despite being overwhelmed to be reunited with mother Sheryl, 60, her son Greg revealed her terrible ordeal online. It’s claimed that a knife-wielding attacker threatened to kill her dog if she didn’t do what he wanted
Video courtesy of KTLA
She sustained herself on stagnant water and cactus fruit.
Powell said she had started to give up hope of being found when she heard helicopters flying above her.
She said that while she was cut up with scratches, she got through by focusing on her caring for her dog Miley.
She eventually tied the dog up near some water to keep her safe but Miley broke free from her leash.
Rescuers found the dog barking on the fourth day and located Powell about two hours later just 200 yards away.
Her husband John said he had started to lose hope of finding his wife as the search entered its fourth day.
‘I became half a man – I couldn’t imagine life without her. Yesterday I was the saddest man on the planet, today I’m the happiest,’ he said.
When she was found, searchers described Powell as ‘resilient and strong but exhausted after being lost in an extremely remote area’.
She was taken to hospital for medical clearance and has since been described as healthy.
Powell was spotted embracing her children when she was released from hospital late Monday.
The family feared that Powell (above) and her dog Miley had been abducted after she went missing while on a bathroom break. Missing person posters were handed out in the area
Powell’s family feared she had been abducted due to her vanishing without water or food, and with a dog that could not run far due to having an injured leg. Here are the family (pictured: L-R) husband John, daughter Farrah, mom Sheryl and Greg
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office praised authorities for their search efforts to find missing Sheryl Powell (right) after she vanished on the way to a campsite with husband John (right). They said that teams worked ‘amazingly hard’ in the ‘difficult terrain’ and risked battling ‘rattlesnakes’
Her daughter Farrah Powell had earlier posted a picture of Powell in her hospital bed surrounded by her family.
‘SHES ALIVE!!! This is the happiest day of our lives. We can’t thank everyone enough!!!!!!!’ she wrote.
Her son, Greg Powell, stated that his mom was an ‘amazing human being’ and that she looked ‘pretty good given the situation.’
‘Her first words were to us were ‘I’m so sorry I put you through that you guys must have been so worried,’ just proving how selfless she is,’ he said.
‘We are overjoyed to be reunited with her!’
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office have yet to comment on Powell’s attempted attacker but say they are still investigating.
They praised her family as well as local residents, visitors and their assisting agencies who conducted ‘amazingly hard work in difficult terrain.’
‘Challenges include multiple gullies, shale slopes, low shade, direct sun, and rattlesnakes,’ they wrote on social media.
A helicopter equipped with thermal imaging gear that took part in the search for missing Sheryl Powell
Members of the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office are pictured searching for Sheryl Powell. She was found on Monday two-and-a-half miles away from where she went missing
A volunteer is pictured searching he White Mountains area of California’s Inyo County for missing woman Sheryl Powell, 60
At the time of her disappearance, Powell was described as an ‘experienced hiker’ around 5ft 3 and 120lb, with brown hair and brown eyes. Her dog was estimated to weigh around 4lb and on a red leash.
Joseph initially spent an hour searching for his wife around the spot she vanished from, one mile west of Grandview Campground in the White Mountains.
He walked in circles blowing his whistle and yelling before he raised the alarm via a satellite device that he was carrying.
Powell’s family feared that she was abducted because she vanished without food or water and had no plans to hike as they were just setting-up camp.
Her dog Miley also wouldn’t have been able to run due to having a ‘bad leg.’
At the time Greg wrote that authorities ‘keep insisting she just got lost… I hope they’re right but I think they should be pursuing the possibility of abduction as well.’
Helicopters searched the area with thermal imaging while on the hunt for missing Sheryl Powell who was discovered on Monday
The family promised to return the near $40,000 in donations they received to help charter a private helicopter to find Sheryl Powell. Authorities had said over the weekend that they would use the helicopters for two more days before they would have to cease their search
One of the searchers is pictured while on the lookout for missing Sheryl Powell who disappeared in the White Mountains
Powell’s son Greg shared his joy online after they were reunited
Over the weekend, Greg said that the helicopter search would be called-off in two days if she was not found, leading the family to set-up a GoFundMe campaign so that they could afford to privately charter the helicopter beyond that point.
Greg and his sister Farrah distributed missing posters in the area and searched independently.
Since being reunited, Greg posted a message thanking everyone who assisted them in the search and their fundraising.
‘We couldn’t have gotten through this without you and you all mean the world to us,’ he wrote.
The family have since pledged to refund the near $40,000 in donations contributed to their search.