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Missing woman with dementia found alive in car, buried in snow, after a week

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Posted at 6:23 AM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 07:23:54-05

BUTTE COUNTY, CA (KTXL/CNN) — A 68-year-old woman was found in her car, buried under snow, in California.

Paula James has dementia, and she was missing for over 100 hours. Her family was worried they would never see her again.

James was missing for nearly a week, and her daughter, Laura Powell, feared the worst.

Paula's picture could be seen on flyers around town as authorities issued a silver alert

And as temperatures dropped, so did hope.

"We just felt like we were doomed. It's literally a miracle that they found her in just the knick of time," Powell said.

But each day the Butte County Sheriff's Helicopter kept flying, looking for any sign of paula.

"One of the sergeants thought he spotted a vehicle that matched the description of the silver Toyota 4runner driven by Paula Beth James," Megan McMann with the Butte County Sheriff's Office said.

Buried underneath layers of snow in Butte Meadows was Paula's SUV and inside, Paula herself

"She was awake and conscious and she looked at them and said I'm very cold right now I hope you brought a blanket," Powell.

Her family says she stayed warm by periodically turning on the car for heat and staying warm with moving blankets and floor mats from inside the suv.

They say her rescue came just in time.

"I really want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the Sheriff's department. They want above and beyond and we really appreciate them for that," Powell said.

After days in the cold, Paula developed some frostbite and was severely dehydrated.

But they say she's going to be just fine.