Hiker, missing 6 nights, to leave hospital after treatment

Dec 6 2010 - 12:35pm

FELTON, Calif. -- Debra Collins, the woman who survived six freezing nights in Fall Creek State Park after falling in a remote ravine and not being able to get up or call for help, is expected to be released from the hospital on Monday.

Collins, who turned 59 on Sunday, was treated for hypothermia and frostbite on her toes, said her boss, Tom Saviano.

Collins also underwent a CAT scan to ensure she hadn't suffered any head injuries and doctors examined her kidneys in case the days of no food and little water had caused any damage, Saviano said.

"She's in very good spirits," Saviano said Sunday. "She said she had just gone for a hike that day. She didn't think it was a big deal."

Collins walked from her Hihn Street home in Felton to begin the hike in the oark, near Santa Cruz, in Nov. 28.

Family and friends started to worry a couple of days later when they couldn't reach her her by phone or e-mail. They called authorities on Nov. 30 to report her missing.

Sheriff's officials said they didn't conduct an immediate search for Collins because they didn't have any specific information on where she was last seen.

Sheriff Phil Wowak said family and friends told authorities she could be hiking or running in Fall Creek, Henry Cowell or Big Basin, an area too vast to conduct a safe, effective search.

"It would be very dangerous to send out a search team without specific information," he said. "When we deploy a team it's strictly about the safety of the search team and the effectiveness of the search."

Collins was found Saturday wedged in a ravine off an unmarked trail near a flowing creek by hikers Joachim Deguara and his 7-year-old son Dylan,

Felton residents who had heard about the missing woman and wanted to help find her.

They discovered her in an area covered in leaves and twigs called Lost

Camp, about two miles from Empire Grade.

Collins' blue jacket caught Deguara's eye.

When found, Collins was lying on her side dressed in four layers of

clothing and unable to move her legs, Deguara said. Her head was covered

with a hood, and she was tired and weak, he said.

Deguara said Collins was happy to have his help in getting out of the

woods. "It took her a few minutes to become alert to the situation," Deguara said. "Her muscles were strained and she couldn't move her legs easily. She had no energy. Other than the very low energy, she was very remarkable. She's very, very lucky."

(c) 2010, Santa Cruz Sentinel (Santa Cruz, Calif.).

Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel on the Web at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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(c) 2010, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).

Visit MercuryNews.com, the World Wide Web site of the Mercury News, at http://www.mercurynews.com.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

 

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