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Missing Butte Falls woman found alive

Search-and-rescue teams found an 80-year-old woman with dementia Tuesday who had been missing since Saturday evening, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Geraldine "Gerry" Hendricks was cold and dehydrated, but she was "in surprisingly good condition," a news release from the sheriff's office said.

Searchers on an all-terrain vehicle found Hendricks just before noon walking on a forest road about two miles from her home in the Butte Falls area, the sheriff's office said.

Sheriff's Sgt. Shawn Richards, who heads the search-and-rescue program, said Hendricks was talkative and in good spirits, according to the release. She hadn't realized she had been missing as long as three days, due to her dementia, officials said.

A Mercy Flights helicopter transported Hendricks to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center for evaluation.

Hendricks' in-home caregiver last saw her at 6:15 p.m. Saturday evening, at her home in the 4400 block of Obenchain Road. She told authorities that Hendricks had been wearing a pink flannel pajama suit.

Searchers who found Hendricks discovered that she had put on more clothing — a turtleneck sweater, a pink camouflage coat and walking shoes.

"Those extra layers may have made all the difference in keeping her alive in the elements," Richards said.In the first two nights Hendricks was missing, he said earlier this week, temperatures in the area went down to the low 40s.

Richards said community support also made a significant impact on the search process. Neighbors opened up their properties to search-and-rescue teams and even brought food and water to the volunteers, he said.

Word of Hendricks' disappearance spread far and fast on social media. The county also sent out Citizen Alerts to try to find information on where Hendricks might have gone.

The initial search for Hendricks, which kicked off Saturday around 6:44 p.m. after the caregiver reported the 80-year-old missing, involved a police tracking dog. The K-9 followed her scent to the end of her driveway, but that trail went cold at Obenchain Road, Richards said.

Crews, some of whom came from other counties, searched day and night after that. The effort included ground teams, K-9s, ATVs, drones, hasty rigs, helicopters and airplanes.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay. Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman contributed to this story.

Geraldine Hendricks, courtesy of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.