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.

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

Briley, 71, and La'Myra Briley, 5, were seated inside the parked car when authorities arrived.

La'Myra was unharmed and evaluated by emergency responders. Briley was airlifted to VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Va., for treatment, though authorities did not discuss the extent of her injuries. Hospital officials Wednesday night said she was in serious condition.

Briley and La'Myra Briley 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 believes 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. But Briley's family said she doesn't have health problems.

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. "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 car 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.

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

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