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Relative: Woman rescued from snow after 6 days has dementia

BUTTE MEADOWS, Calif. — A stepdaughter of a woman who survived six days in her snowbound SUV in Northern California says she suffers from dementia.

“We thought she was probably dead,’’ Laura Powell said of 68-year-old Paula Beth James, told KTXL on Wednesday.

A search helicopter flying over the remote, mountainous community of Butte Meadows spotted James’ SUV Wednesday. She disappeared Jan. 9.

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Butte Meadows is about 200 miles northeast of San Francisco.

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“It just felt like we were doomed,” Powell said. “So, it was just literally a miracle that those guys found her in just the nick of time.”

The helicopter landed and two searchers hiked to the vehicle and found James inside the SUV buried in the snow.

“It just felt like we were doomed,” Powell said. “So, it was just literally a miracle that those guys found her in just the nick of time.”

A tracked vehicle designed for traveling on snow was used to retrieve James, who was hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said.

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James is from Oroville, about 50 miles from Butte Meadows.

She was awake and conscious when deputies found her, Powell said.

‘‘She looked at them and she said, ‘I’m very cold, I hope you brought a blanket,’” Powell explained.

James’ family said she stayed warm by periodically turning on the car for heat and staying warm with moving blankets and floor mats from inside the SUV.

They say her rescue came just in time.

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“I really want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the sheriff’s department. They want above and beyond and we really appreciate them for that,’’ Powell said.

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