A South Jersey woman and her great-granddaughter were found alive Wednesday evening in Virginia, three days after relatives reported that they never showed up at a family Christmas gathering in North Carolina.

Authorities said no foul play was suspected.

A property owner in Dinwiddie County called police after spotting Barbara Briley's vehicle on his land just before 5 p.m. It was at least a mile from Nash Road, a narrow street that cuts through farmland, and more than three miles from I- 85.

Briley, 71, and La'Myra Briley, 5, were seated against a tree about 45 feet from the silver Toyota RAV4, Virginia state police reported late Wednesday. The property owner saw the compact SUV from afar, then approached and found the pair.

La'Myra was alert and unharmed, and was taken to the Dinwiddie County Sheriff's Office to be evaluated. She later was placed in the custody of a family member.

Briley was unconscious at the time she was found, state police said. She was airlifted to VCU Medical Center in Richmond for treatment, though authorities did not discuss specifics of her condition. Hospital officials Wednesday night said she was in serious condition.

State police said it appeared that Briley turned off Nash onto a dirt road and followed it for about three-tenths of a mile before pulling off into the woods.

At some point, she drove over a small tree and attempted to back up, and the RAV4 got stuck in a remote area of the property, state police said. Briley and La'Myra were there for several days but had drinks and snacks to sustain them.

The pair left Mays Landing, N.J., on the morning of Christmas Eve and were expected to arrive that night in Morven, N.C. They were last seen leaving an Exxon station in Ruther Glen, Va., more than 70 miles north of where they were found Wednesday.

Virginia state police had searched hotels and restaurant parking lots in the Ruther Glen area, and the Caroline County Sheriff's Office had called area hospitals and scoured the highways.

Sheriff Tony Lippa said Wednesday afternoon he believed no criminal acts occurred within the county where the gas station is located.

Drivers' disappearances, he said, more often stem from medical issues than foul play. Briley's family said she had not had health problems.

Members of Briley's family, who had also searched the highways, clung earlier Wednesday to hopes that she was simply lost and trying to find her way back.

"We're still praying that she'll come home safely," said Jennifer Lindsey, 35, of Morven, N.C., before the discovery. Briley is her aunt, and La'Myra is her cousin.
Lindsey said the family planned to go to church, eat dinner, and exchange gifts on Christmas Day.
A family member who answered Lindsey's phone Wednesday night declined to comment on the discovery of Briley and La'Myra, but expressed thanks for the search efforts.

South Jersey Woman and Great-Granddaughter Found Alive

Barbara Briley and her great-granddaughter were found Wednesday afternoon in Virginia, four days after leaving Mays Landing, N.J., on Christmas Eve morning to drive to a family gathering in North Carolina. Click on the markers on the map for more information.
Staff Graphic

In North Carolina, troopers looked for Briley's vehicle along Interstates 95 and 85 and checked rest stops. The agency also reviewed its stranded-motorist call log for any vehicles that matched the description of Briley's 2014 silver Toyota Rav 4.

"It is kind of a disheartening situation," Sgt. Michael Baker, a spokesman for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, said Wednesday afternoon before the two were found. "Especially right here at Christmas." 

Terri Ramseur, 49, of Absecon, one of Briley's three children, said Tuesday her mother had taken this route many times before.

Briley, who drove buses for NJ Transit for nearly 30 years, walked into the Exxon station in Ruther Glen, Va., at 5:39 p.m. on Christmas Eve, authorities said. A clerk at the station and Briley's family said she was lost due to construction on the highway and needed help working the GPS on her phone.

She walked out of the station at 5:45 p.m., walked back in at 5:51 p.m., and left again two minutes later, authorities said. She pulled out of the station in her SUV  at 6:06 p.m.

Her family had said they last heard from her around 8 p.m., when she said she was in standstill traffic near the split of Interstates 95 and 85, just south of Richmond. The state police drove and walked sections of the interstates there while searching for her.

Briley's family called 911 early Christmas Day after she and La'Myra didn't arrive in North Carolina.

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