ENTERPRISE, Ore. (AP) -- Searchers found a missing elk hunter alive Sunday after she went a week without food, water or warm clothing in the frigid Wallowa Mountains.
Mischelle Hileman, 39, was found about nine miles northeast of Wallowa after being missing since Sunday, Oct. 27, said Matthew Marmor, Wallowa County's emergency services coordinator.
A hospital spokeswoman said she was suffering from exposure and frostbite. "I will simply say it's a miracle," Marmor said of Hileman's survival in temperatures that dipped near or below zero during the week she was missing. "We are willing to accept the miracle."
Hileman was wearing only a red fleece sweatshirt, pants, hiking boots and a baseball cap, but no coat. She had no way to make a fire during her long ordeal. Marmor said one of the searchers, Bill Lehr, 44, of Wallowa was walking near the spot where Hileman was lying in a stand of old-growth timber, and Lehr called her name. "She said, 'Yeah,"' Marmor said. "She was conscious, she was in good spirits and good humor." "I was totally blown away," Lehr said. "It was just absolutely amazing."
Hileman had slipped and fallen the day she was reported missing and was unable to get out of a canyon, Lehr said. She was about a mile from where she had planned to rendezvous with her father, Benny Hileman of Wallowa, Marmor said. She used up all the ammunition for her hunting rifle trying to signal rescuers. Lehr said when he found Hileman, she was breaking ice in a stream to get water.
Hileman told him she survived by eating berries and perhaps some moss, and had covered herself with fir and pine boughs to keep warm, he said. "She had two different shelters that she made, and that helped a lot," Lehr said. "But the length of time without any major food, lightly dressed, the severe temperatures. It is just amazing. "She is just a super gal, and we are really pleased that she dug in and did what she had to do to survive," he said.
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