For days, no one knew where 60-year-old Sheryl Powell was. She and the family dog had suddenly disappeared from a campsite in the remote White Mountains of California. The mother of two was sorely missed, and people were growing extremely worried about her. Although she was an experienced hiker, something had happened that separated her from her family and sent her missing for four days.
On Tuesday, she came back to civilization, alive but a wreck. She told authorities and her family that she was lucky to be alive because she had fled her family campsite after a “burly” man with a knife wielded it at her and threatened her life.
Sheryl’s husband made the call to the police that she was missing on Friday afternoon. She had disappeared while taking the family dog for a walk near Grandview Campsite. His call did not go unheeded. Rescue teams were dispatched to look for the Huntington Beach woman and her dog. But they were unable to turn up any leads whatsoever during the whole weekend.
On Monday, they made headway. The rescue team found the family dog, Miley, in the morning. Then about two-and-a-half hours later, authorities found Sheryl. She was rushed to a local hospital because she was suffering from dehydration and minor injuries. But she recovered quickly and was not seriously hurt.
That’s when Sheryl told everyone everything about what happened. She said that a man confronted her while she was squatting for a bathroom break. She was in a vulnerable position and immediately found the interaction alarming.
“The first thing that’s going to happen here, I’m going to use this knife on the dog, and then if you don’t let me have my way with you, I’ll use it on you.”
Sheryl was terrified. The man had a knife, and she did not know what to do but act “docile” with the man. But she still kept her fighting spirit intact inside of her. She decided to go for her escape the first moment she could. She started running with Miley the dog and got away from him after some time.
“He was pursuing me,” Powell said. “I had to concentrate on how to get through this.”
After the first day, Sheryl also had to think about how she was going to survive, not just the man but the wild. She started eating cactus fruit and drinking water from a spring.
“It was actually good tasting water,” she remarked.
Sheryl survived the days along the Nevada border despite the blistering heat during the day and the frigid cold at night. She stayed warm at night by wrapping herself and the dog in unused doggie bags.
“That was harrowing. Luckily I’m here,” Powell said. “I’m happy to be back with my family, happy to be here to tell my story. I didn’t know if I’d make it.”
When her husband saw Sheryl alive, and well, it was “the happiest day of my life.”
Meanwhile, the Inyo County Sherriff’s Office is “actively investigating the circumstances surrounding the disappearance” but has no information about the “burly” man.
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