Miracle as missing woman found after dangling off steep slope for 12 hours

A Nevada mum had a “miracle” escape after falling off a cliff and clinging to a tree for almost 12 hours before being rescued.

Gayle Stewart was reported missing two hours after leaving her home in Reno, Nevada at about 8am on Valentine’s Day.

A search party was organised by her family, and a friend of her son’s found the 64-year-old some 300 to 400 feet off a road clinging to a tree on a dangerously steep slope near Caughlin Ranch.

“Actually kind of a miracle story,” said Battalion Chief for the Reno Fire Department, Seth Williams.

“The son called up some friends to start searching for her and one of the boys just decided to head off this cliff thinking maybe she fell down there and found her clinging to a tree.

“He said the last thing she said was ‘help’ and then didn’t talk anymore.”

At around 9.15 that evening, a rescue team of some 28 firefighters and volunteers and Gayle was hauled to safety using a system of ropes and pulleys in an operation that took just under half an hour.

Chief Williams told local radio station KOLO that he was in no doubt that the rescuers saved her life.

“That’s what I told the young man that found her, I said that’s truly a lifesaver,” he said.

“With the rain and the snow coming tonight she’s already been exposed for the better part of 12 hours. It could have been a very different outcome had he not found her when he did,” he added.

Reno Fire Department wrote on Facebook: “Amazing find and rescue of a missing woman.

“A friend of the son found her injured and stranded on a steep slope near Alum Creek. RFD personnel helped stabilise the patient, built a rescue system and transported her back to pavement in about a 1/2 hour from contact. Strong work!”

Gayle was placed into a warm ambulance to recover from her ordeal, before being transported to a nearby hospital for additional treatment.

She is expected to make a full recovery.

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