CARSON CITY, Nev. - A Nevada woman survived on snow and tomatoes for nearly a week and found shelter in a hollowed-out tree after she became stranded in a winter storm and her boyfriend died trying to find help, a family member said.
Paula Lane of Gardnerville was rescued Wednesday along a dirt road in the Sierra Nevada after her brother, suspecting the couple might have returned to Burnside Lake where they had camped before, took a highway front loader and went looking for her, the Nevada Appeal reported.
Lane, 46, was recovering from frostbite at a Carson City hospital after spending six nights in the frigid Hope Valley in California's Alpine County.
Lane and Roderick Paul Clifton, 44, were reported missing after they left Citrus Heights, Calif., on Nov. 29.
Alpine County Undersheriff Robert Levy said Clifton had recently purchased the 1989 Jeep Cherokee and wanted to try out its four-wheel-drive when he drove around a locked gate blocking access to a road.
After their Jeep got stuck in mud, Clifton tried to hike out to Highway 88, about six miles away, authorities said. His body was recovered along the dirt road on U.S. Forest Service land that was barricaded to traffic because of poor conditions.
Levy said Gary Lane had commandeered a Caltrans front loader parked in a sand shed then drove it several miles along the road until he found his sister.
He loaded her into the bucket of the loader and returned to a small resort on Highway 88.
After getting stuck, Levy said Clifton spent the first night in their vehicle. The next morning, with a major storm rolling into the Sierra, Clifton tried to hike out alone to find help.
"Lane attempted to convince Clifton to stay with the vehicle," Levy said. Three days later, Lane "attempted to walk and crawl out," the sheriff said.
She later told responders she had found Clifton's body while making her way down the road.
Linda Hathaway said her sister is doing well.
"The family has been through a lot. My nephews and my mom and I are very happy she made it. It's been a rough haul waiting all those days."
The mother of 11-year-old twin boys, Lane is eager to get home.
"All I can tell you is she wants to get better so she can get home to her babies," Hathaway said. "It is hard to sit there as a family waiting. You don't know, your mind plays [through] so many things."