Stranded in deep snow for six terrifying days, Lassen County woman found safe after extensive search

LASSEN COUNTY, Calif., — Authorities say a Little Valley woman is lucky to be alive after spending six days stranded on a rural dirt road when her vehicle became stuck in deep snow.

The 52-year-old victim, Sheena Gullett, reportedly became separated from her companion while trying to walk to safety last week and survived on a ration of one yogurt each day she was lost. Having no water, she ate snow to remain hydrated while waiting to be rescued, according to officials.

Rescuers were ultimately able to locate Gullett when her companion managed to guide them back to the location where the pair had become separated while trying to seek help nearly a week earlier.


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Lassen County sheriff’s deputies were alerted to Gullett’s plight around 2:30 a.m. on Monday, April 18th, after Justin Lonich, 48, of Little Valley, called 911 and reported that Gullett was possibly stranded in a remote area of Lassen County near Little Valley, Lassen County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Dave Woginrich reported yesterday.

Lonich told deputies that he and Gullett were driving to Little Valley on dirt roads off of Highway 44 on Thursday, April 14th, when their vehicle became stuck in the snow. After spending the night in their vehicle they realized the vehicle’s battery had died overnight.

Lonich told deputies the pair attempted to walk back to Highway 44, but Sheena began falling behind as the soles of her boots had come off and the couple soon became separated. When Lonich attempted to backtrack through the deep snow to find her, he was unable to locate her and sought shelter from the heavy snowfall where he built a campfire, according to Woginrich.

On Saturday Lonich again attempted to find help and continued walking until he came to a gravel road where he again sought shelter for the night.

He was finally able to reach Highway 44 the following morning, where he hitched a ride to Susanville from a passerby, according to Woginrich who said he then reported what happened and that Sheena was still stranded in the forest.

“Initially, details of this incident were unclear and made it difficult for Sheriff’s Office personnel to narrow down a search area. Justin was not familiar with the area and the roads they had been traveling on,” the Lieutenant explained. “From the time Justin reported this incident, sheriff’s deputies, sergeants, detectives, and US Forest Service personnel conducted ground searches every day.”

On one of the subsequent search days, when the weather was clear, California Highway Patrol flew the search area in a helicopter in conjunction with a ground search team. They were unable to locate the vehicle or Sheena and further searches from the air were unable to be conducted due to inclement weather and continuing snowfall.

As the search continued on Wednesday, April 20th, Lonich rode along with a sheriff’s deputy with the hopes that he might be able to provide a better location of where he and Gullett became stuck in the snow. A Sheriff’s sergeant, along with two US Forest Service personnel, who were also in the search area looking for Sheena split up and searched along several different dirt roads that travel through the mountainous region.

At around 3:00 p.m., after searching for several hours, the sheriff’s sergeant located the vehicle and Gullett.

“She was very emotional but physically okay, and she was transported to the Bogard Ranger Station to be evaluated by medical personnel, said Woginrich.

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Gullett told deputies she had survived her terrifying ordeal by rationing a six-pack of yogurt, eating one per day. Because she did not have any water, she had been eating snow.

She also relayed that she had seen CHP’s helicopter fly over her a few days prior to being rescued, but because she was in a heavily wooded area, they were unable to see her.

“The Lassen County Sheriff’s Office Command Staff commends the efforts of all personnel involved in searching for and locating Sheena,” Woginwich went on to say. “Through their efforts, Sheena was found safe and is now back home.”

“Also, special thanks go out to the California Highway Patrol and the US Forest Service for their assistance,” he added.

Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 51, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and operates Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS). Both are stringer organizations, providing breaking news coverage and community interest stories for other mainstream media organizations throughout the two regions they serve.

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.