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California woman with dementia missing for 6 days found alive in snow-covered car

The woman's SUV was spotted from a helicopter in the search mission.
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Posted at 7:41 AM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 10:41:22-05

A woman suffering from dementia who was missing for six days in Northern California was found alive on Wednesday in her snow-covered vehicle.

Paula Beth James, 68, was rescued after the Butte County Sheriff's Office spotted her car from a helicopter.

Her Toyota SUV was about 150 yards off the road in Butte Meadows, a rural area about 200 miles northeast of San Francisco, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

The pilot landed the helicopter near James' vehicle, and was met by rescuers on Sno-Cats, who found her alive in the car and took her to a paramedics' staging area.

James was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition, police said Wednesday.

Photos of the rescue mission show the SUV in a snow-covered rural field surrounded by trees. Police believe James may have become disoriented due to her dementia. The sheriff's office said the search-and-rescue operation took more than 100 hours.

"We are all grateful for this fortunate outcome and wish her a speedy recovery," the sheriff's office wrote.