By NIKKI YOUNK
FLORENCE, Wis. - A woman who went missing from Commonwealth, Wis. Tuesday afternoon was located about seven and a half hours later in the Little Popple River, suffering from severe hypothermia.
Florence County Sheriff Jeff Rickaby said that the 57-year-old woman left a family cabin in Commonwealth at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to walk with her dog.
When she became disoriented and did not return, her husband started to search for her. He notified the sheriff's department of her disappearance at about 4 p.m.
Rickaby said that approximately 30 people from the sheriff's office, Florence Fire and Rescue Department, Aurora Fire Department, and Aurora Rescue Squad joined in the search.
According to Rickaby, the cabin is located in a remote area commonly referred to as "the plains." As a result, an initial ground search of trails in the area was unsuccessful.
Authorities then called in a helicopter with night vision equipment from Aspirus Health Care in Wausau, Wis.
The helicopter searched for about one hour before it had to return to Wausau for fuel.
Rickaby said that deputies riding in a patrol unit on a trail north of the Little Popple River heard screaming to the south and redirected the ground search to that area. Deputies on Toby's Road on the south side of the Little Popple River also heard screaming, he added.
Working together, the groups were able to narrow the search to a heavily wooded area along the river.
Rickaby said that as the searchers neared the area of screaming, the missing woman's husband ran ahead and located his wife in the river at 9:02 p.m.
The woman was suffering from severe hypothermia, and it took nearly an hour to get her out to the nearest trail, Rickaby said.
The woman was transported by Aurora Rescue and Beacon paramedics to the Dickinson County Hospital.
"This was the best outcome we could ask for, yet was a combination of teamwork between everyone involved, including sound scene management by Florence County Emergency," said Rickaby.
The search ended at about 10:45 p.m., when all rescuers were accounted for.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.