A 23-year-old woman who disappeared on a hike in Montana last week has been found several days after rescuers began searching for her.
River Forest native Madeline Connelly and her dog Mogi were found alive Wednesday, a family member confirmed to NBC 5. She was conscious at the time she was found and was being evaluated by medics, her uncle said.
“[She] didn’t have equipment to spend the night in those kinds of conditions, but was able to survive,” said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry in a FaceTime interview. “She had her dog with her—great moral support, she said.”
The two had been reported missing after Connelly never returned from a hike last week.
Connelly, who family members said was an experienced hiker, went to Montana to see family while on her way to a job prospect in Alaska. She began a hike Thursday, but didn't return.
“I just kind of wanted to say thank you to everyone that put in all of this effort into helping me,” Connelly said after being rescued.
Curry described the area where Madeline was as dense forest with steep terrain and fast-moving rivers. He added that there is “a lot” of wildlife in the area—including grizzly bears.
The Flathead County sheriff’s deputy who hoisted Madeline into the chopper said she got turned around and pushed further into the wilderness without food or protection.
She was found about five miles from where she parked her car, family members said.
“Her first words to the people who found her were ‘Can I hike out with you?’” said uncle Michael Connelly.
Madeline says she just wants to sit on the porch and enjoy some sun—while her mom says her daughter’s return is the best Mother’s Day present she could ask for.