SPARTA, NC (WIS) - A Kershaw County woman missing for several days has been taken to a hospital after being found alive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.
Crystal Ham of Cassatt was found Monday evening in a very remote location near the Bullhead Mountain scenic overlook.
Around 6:00 p.m., after searching most of the day in four high probability areas within the search radius, one of the search teams volunteered to search one last segment of the area before dark. Ham was found on State Park land, approximately one mile downhill from where she had parked on the Parkway, in an area of steep terrain and tall trees, with the light quickly fading.
Because of the darkness and terrain, rescuers couldn't airlift the 25-year-old woman out of the ravine until Tuesday morning.
A crew of 13 rescuers, including paramedics, stayed with her overnight. The rescuers kept her warm with blankets and a fire. She was also given an IV to keep hydrated.
At approximately 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, a helicopter from the North Carolina National Guard hoisted her out of the ravine she was in, along with one of the paramedics that had been treating her.
Ham was then flown to a nearby landing zone where she was assessed by an ambulance crew before being transferred to a medical helicopter to be flown to a Winston-Salem hospital. She's being treated for exposure, hypothermia and dehydration.
According to the family's pastor, Craig Thompson, Ham has spoken with some family and appears to be doing well. Thompson believes Ham went to the scenic overlook and into the woods to have some prayer time and simply got lost.
Ham went missing from the overlook near milepost 234 last week about 17 miles south of the Virginia state line.
More than 40 people were involved in the search for Ham, who was last seen on Tuesday morning in South Carolina at her father's office.
Park Ranger Bruce Gagon said rangers checked the tag of a Chevrolet Trailblazer left at the overlook and discovered that it belonged to Ham, who had been reported missing in Kershaw County.
Authorities said the vehicle had been parked at the overlook for several days, and wasn't immediately a cause for concern since the area is frequently used for hiking and overnight camping trips.
Officials from several local volunteer fire departments, rescue squads, law enforcement, Stone Mountain State Park rangers and a team of dogs began their search of a 1.25 mile radius of rugged terrain on Sunday afternoon.
Authorities from the Kershaw County Sheriff's Department and the National Park Service are still investigating exactly what happened.