FORKS — The State Patrol continued to investigate Saturday after a woman who had fled from a two-car collision on state Highway 113 and been missing for almost 48 hours was found alive Thursday afternoon.
Catherine M. Raya, 40, of Mesa, Ariz. was taken to Forks Community Hospital for treatment, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said. Forks Community Hospital would not provide information Saturday on her condition or whether she was still in the hospital.
Raya was located about 1:35 p.m. Thursday by members of Quinault Resource Enforcement and Raya’s family members, Sheriff’s Sgt. John Keegan said in a press release.
“They were alerted to Catherine’s location when they heard the sounds of a person in distress,” Keegan said.
Raya was found within the original search perimeter that law enforcement set up following the Tuesday collision, Keegan said. She was carried out of the woods and to an awaiting ambulance about 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
Raya was not wearing a jacket or shoes when she took off into the wilderness early Tuesday evening. She is suspected of stealing a witnesses’ vehicle after the collision and later abandoning the stolen vehicle along U.S. Highway 101 near Sappho after a Clallam County Sheriff’s deputy successfully deployed a spike strip.
Law enforcement units covered 171 acres in ground and aerial searches and were analyzing GPS information in an attempt to find her into the woods near the Sol Duc River.
“Tactical trackers with the Clallam Bay [Prison] Inmate Recovery Team found locations where she had been, and we proceeded to check those areas thoroughly with no luck,” Keegan said. “Another K-9 unit was used in that search. These were outside locations in the area we had contained.”
Additionally, a Coast Guard helicopter and a State Patrol fixed-wing airplane, both equipped with thermal imaging cameras, were deployed.
“They have the forward-looking infrared sensor that picks up heat signatures,” Keegan said of the aerial response.
Keegan said family members previously told investigators that Raya did not have a cellphone with her.
“My understanding is we recovered two cell phones and a laptop taken from the vehicle [she is alleged to have stolen],” Keegan said. “Our focus was not on finding evidence of a crime; the focus was on finding her for life safety measures.”
State Patrol Trooper Chelsea Hodgson said Saturday that no charges had been recommended.