Shaina Hughes of Sioux Falls apparently followed bad directions from a GPS unit and got stuck in snow 12 miles down a remote Bighorn National Forest road, the Wyoming Highway Patrol said.
Hughes spent the night of Friday, Nov. 15, in her car before being rescued — unharmed — the following morning, the patrol said in a Monday news release.
The woman’s family reported her missing after she didn’t show up in Powell on the 15th; they said the last contact from Hughes was that she’d passed a Forest Service sign on a curvy road.
Around 7 a.m. on Nov. 16, a trooper from Lovell and a trooper from Sheridan, acting on a hunch, began searching U.S. Highway 14 and 14-A over the Big Horns, the release said.
The troopers met near Burgess Junction with neither having found any sign of the woman’s 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The patrolmen began heading back, but then received word that a text message from the missing woman had been received and the phone — based on data from the service provider — appeared to be around Forest Service Road 180.
The Sheridan-based patrolman, Trooper Kelly Broad, headed that direction — turning north at Burgess Junction — and found Hughes’ Monte Carlo about 12 miles northeast of the highway, near Road 180.
However, Broad found the vehicle empty, with footprints leading further down the road.
The snow prohibited the trooper from following in his car, so he set out on foot. Around 9 a.m., he located Hughes a short distance away: she was cold and afraid, but otherwise fine. Hughes later told troopers she had set out for help that morning after taking shelter in her car overnight.
The trooper gave her his hat, gloves and a candy bar as they waited for an off-duty Wyoming Department of Transportation employee to pick them up in a truck, the release said. Hughes was taken to a Sheridan hospital, treated and released with no reported injuries, the patrol said.
“It worked out good,” said Wyoming Highway Patrol Capt. Carl Clements of Sheridan, complimenting the work of Trooper Broad.
“With a busy travel time approaching for the holiday season, troopers want to remind motorists that even though you have a GPS, you should also look at a map to make sure of your route,” said Wyoming Highway Patrol Sgt. Stephen Townsend in Monday’s news release.
“Make sure you advise someone of your route and when you plan to leave and plan to arrive,” Townsend said. “In addition, make sure you have the proper equipment, extra clothing and some non-perishable food supply stored in your vehicle.”
A Wisconsin couple spent six days stranded on the Beartooth Highway earlier this month after their GPS unit similarly directed them to travel over the closed route. They also survived — in part because they stayed with their vehicle and had supplies and warm clothes.