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Mike Anderson, KSL

Habit of preparedness helped Utah woman who was missing for a week

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Updated - Mar 26th, 2019 @ 6:51pm | Posted - Mar 26th, 2019 @ 12:19pm


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PARK VALLEY, Box Elder County — Michelle Richan has a longtime habit of being prepared. She figured there's always a possibility she could find herself in a position where she'd need a week's worth of supplies if she got lost or stuck, so she often travels with a survival kit.

That's exactly what happened when she got her SUV stuck in mud on a remote road in Box Elder County last week during a trek from Eureka, Nevada, to her home in Brigham City.

After she didn't arrive back in Utah when she was supposed to, Eureka County Sheriff's officials issued a missing persons alert for Richan, 47, on March 19.

All police knew was she had stopped for gas in Wells, Nevada, that day, which is located about 60 miles northwest of the Utah-Nevada border on I-80. They weren't sure which route she had taken.

Richan's vehicle was finally found about noon Tuesday by Box Elder County workers who were working to get Emigrant Trail Road in western Box Elder County ready for the season, Brigham City Police Lt. Tony Ferderber said. The road connected state Route 30 with the ghost town of Kelton.

The workers found Richan in good condition with plenty of water and food in her SUV. Her preparedness paid off.

"(She had) everything needed to survive the week," Ferderber said. "From the reports we got, she always traveled prepared. She always carried food, water — whatever type of food it was, she would carry in her vehicle for situations just like this."

Richan told KSL TV there were a few vehicles that drove past her during the week but likely couldn't see her SUV. Finally, late Tuesday morning, the county vehicle showed up.

"He told me, 'I have to pull you out. You're in my way,'" Richan said.

She said her main concerns during the past week was finding someone to help get her SUV out of the mud and to find wood for a fire.

"That's about it, actually," she said with a giant laugh.

The Richan family showcased the contents of her SUV once she was home safe and sound, and the vehicle had been pulled out of the mud by a search and rescue team. Not only did she have food and water, she had all sorts of supplies with her, like a shovel and boots.

Richan and her family can laugh about the ordeal now. However, the past week was full of emotions.

"It's been terrifying," said Richan's daughter, Kaylee Vaughn, with a large sigh of relief, "and exciting and just completely — there's just no words. You can't explain it."

Ferderber advised drivers to stay away from Emigrant Trail Road for the time being since the road is still muddy.

Contributing: Mike Anderson and Natalie Mollinet, KSL

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