Minnesota woman rescued alive after missing in wilderness for 9 days

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A woman with family in Minnesota was rescued alive on Saturday after spending nine days lost in the wilderness.

“We were just hoping she would be recovered if she had passed,” sister-in-law Barb Hartwig said.

Miyuki Harwood, 62, was lost somewhere in the expanse of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, where her life and story appeared all over.

“We got a call at my house in Minnesota about noon on Sunday that she was missing and we just couldn’t believe it,” Hartwig said.

In an interview with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, Rochester resident Hartwig said she worried her sister-in-law was dead. Pictures taken by searchers give you an idea why. The area was rocky, steep and full of smoke from a nearby wildfire.

Miyuki had gone there over a week before with a group of hikers -- “She was on the mountain with her group and decided she wanted to go down the mountain by herself,” Hartwig said.

It was a decision Harwood would soon regret.

“It got dark, she was on a little cliff and she misstepped and she fell off.”

When she hit the earth below, Harwood broke her leg, ankle, and compressed her spine.  She was unable to walk and ended up crawling 200 yards to a creek. 

“She knew what she had to do and she did it,” Harwig said.

And what she did was stay alive. Harwood could hear the helicopters above and even searchers nearby. On day nine, she blew her whistle and at long last was found.

Searchers quickly airlifted Harwood to a Fresno hospital where she remains in stable condition.