Missing Mesa woman found safe - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Missing Mesa woman found safe

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Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 8:05 am | Updated: 1:28 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Searchers found a missing 85-year-old Mesa woman Wednesday in a remote area outside of Tucson.

Searchers on Wednesday found a missing 85-year-old Mesa woman about 50 miles in the opposite direction of where she was heading when she got lost Tuesday.

Betty Mae Henderson was in good health inside her damaged car with her cat when rescuers found her about 10 p.m. parked on a desolate, rugged road 19 miles east of state Route 79, between Florence and Oracle Junction.

"She told deputies she was looking for an animal shelter," said Lt. Tamatha Villar, Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

She was driven to a hospital as a precaution.

Sgt. Ed Wessing, Mesa police spokesman, said Henderson left a Gilbert residence and was due to arrive for a 6 p.m. card game Tuesday that she had scheduled with a neighbor in the community where she lives, in the 3100 block of East Broadway Road in Mesa.

She was reported missing about midnight.

By 3 a.m. the cavalry went out.

Officers from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, Mesa police, Department of Public Safety, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, United States Air Force Civil Air Patrol and the U.S. Marshal's Office began searching for Henderson.

Villar said the outcome could have been tragic without the considerable cooperation of all those agencies.

Villar said Henderson was found on a desert trail traveled only by four-wheel-drive vehicles, dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and people on horseback.

She was five miles from the dead end of Deep Well Ranch Road, an unpaved road that is "primitive" in itself.

"Her car was significantly damaged," Villar said.

Henderson stopped and stayed inside the car all day Wednesday with the engine running and the air conditioner on low.

She might not have survived if she had gotten out, Villar said.

Temperatures in the area Wednesday were in the mid to upper 90s.

"She had the presence of mind to stay in the vehicle," Villar said.

Searchers were able to trace her cell phone use and began searching in an area in southern Pinal County.

Henderson had called her friend and said she was lost and waiting for AAA to arrive.

Villar said Henderson used her cell phone several times to call friends and family, but service in the area is spotty.

Searchers were able to see that her call made it to a tower several times but wouldn't go beyond that, Villar said.

Based on the cell phone usage, searchers scoured an area to the west of state Route 79 and closer to Tucson than where she was found, which was to the east of the highway.

Missing woman's route

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