An 81-year-old woman was found safe on a ridgeline south of Soda Springs on Thursday morning after she got lost overnight while on a huckleberry hunting day trip with her family in the heavily wooded Eightmile Creek area.
The Caribou County Sheriff’s Office said rescuers located Janet Anderson of Soda Springs just after 8:30 a.m. on Thursday about 1,000 feet from where her family had last seen her before they got separated on Wednesday evening.
Anderson spent the night in the backcountry, where she sustained herself on the huckleberries she had picked earlier. She had minor injuries from falling in the dark but was in “great condition and spirit,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Anderson’s rescue involved more than 50 emergency personnel and citizens and two separate air searches using spotlights and thermal imaging. The search began Wednesday night and continued until rescuers called it off at about 4 a.m. Thursday after deeming it too dark. The search resumed later Thursday morning.
The Caribou County Sheriff’s Office became aware of the missing woman at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Caribou County Search and Rescue responded to the area with the assistance of Bear Lake County Search and Rescue and Air Idaho Rescue, which searched the area by helicopter.
According to the sheriff’s office, it was Nathan Hale — a Grace, Idaho, resident who helped with the search in his private helicopter — who ultimately spotted Anderson from the air on Thursday morning.
A former Caribou County Search and Rescue volunteer said based on his experience, rescuers likely struggled to locate Anderson because it’s “very difficult” to find someone at night in the thick woods and heavy brush where she got lost.
Idaho Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service personnel, Caribou and Bear Lake sheriff’s deputies, the Highlanders and a Caribou County volunteer service group also assisted with the search for Anderson.
Caribou County Sheriff Adam Mabey said of Anderson’s safe return that he appreciates the “swift and selfless response of all the volunteers who responded to this incident.”
“It is the community members and organizations of southeast Idaho that make this a great place to live, work and play,” Mabey said.