- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee court official who went missing on a day hike in the western North Carolina mountains was found alive but injured after a two-day search, authorities said.

Washington County Assistant District Attorney Julie Hays was found Monday afternoon just four miles from the trailhead where she began her trek, the Johnson City Press (https://bit.ly/1LNKig7) reports.

Haywood County Sheriff’s Sgt. Heidi Warren said Hays was reported missing late Saturday by her husband after she failed to return home from what was supposed to be a day hike. Authorities said they began search and rescue efforts early Sunday morning.

Hays had left a note on her vehicle indicating that her hike began at 10 a.m. Saturday, giving rescuers an idea of how far she might have traveled by the time the search began, Warren said.

Officials said 120 searchers from three states searched for Hays. Search crews finally found her after they heard a woman’s scream Monday afternoon.

“The last search crews were wrapping up and coming in and they heard a woman scream,” Johnson City Police Capt. Brian Rice said. “Hearing it on the radio was wonderful. It was the best feeling.”

After Hays was located, it took rescuers eight hours to extract her from the forest, officials said.

“They’re being very meticulous,” Warren said of the searchers on Monday. “It’s mountainous terrain and it can be challenging.” Warren said the crew was unable to use an aircraft during the search and rescue operation because of heavy fog.

Officials said 49-year-old Hays suffered some injuries including a separated shoulder and possibly a broken foot.


Information from: Johnson City Press, https://www.johnsoncitypress.com

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