‘Ecstatic’: Missing hiker found on 75th birthday

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The 75-year-old woman went missing on Saturday

SKAMANIA COUNTY, Wash. (KOIN) — It’s a birthday wish come true for the family of Jung VanAtta, who was missing since Saturday after going mushroom picking in Skamania County.

She was found on her 75th birthday in the Woodard Creek Drainage by members of the 304th Pararescue unit out of the Portland Airbase and members of the Volcano Rescue Team.

“What a great birthday gift,” her daughter, Sue Wong, told KOIN 6 News.

Sue Wong, Jung VanAtta’s daughter, was thrilled her mom was found alive after being missing for 4 days, October 15, 2019 (KOIN)

Family friend Karin Osgood added, “We were all praying and just to give her some guidance and some hope that we are out there looking for her.”

The Vancouver woman went missing Saturday while picking mushrooms with an 87-year-old friend.

On Monday, the team found a bag of freshly-picked mushrooms and a trash bag with a receipt in it, which they confirmed belonged to VanAttta.

Her rescue began around 4 p.m. Tuesday but she was in a difficult spot to reach, officials said. They said she appeared weak but in stable condition.

Rescue crews brought her through an area of heavy vegetation that made it difficult for searchers to see anything. But they said her cry for help led them in the right direction.

“A faint cry for help is all that was heard as they were pursuing something else that they thought might be her,” Jeremy Schultz said.

By 6:30 p.m., VanAtta had been taken by ambulance to an area hospital for treatment.

Wong said during those 4 days her mom found motivation to keep going.

“She said she would sing songs and keep hitting those sticks and keep moving. We knew nothing could keep her down and if she could move, she would.”

Finding her was a gift in itself. The Skamania County sheriff even brought the family a cupcake to celebrate.

Jung VanAtta’s family is counting their blessings after fearing they wouldn’t spend another birthday with her at all.

“We know God’s hand was in this,” Karin Osgood said. “I’m astounded that she survived and this was a happy ending because we were ready the other. We are all ecstatic.”

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