Shelly Friend didn't know if they would find her aunt alive.
Linda Arteaga, 53, of Blackwell, had been missing in the woods of north-central Arkansas for five days, and the odds were not in her favor.
The teams of police and emergency officials called it a “search and recover” mission, not “search and rescue.”
“You understood they were looking for a body, not a survivor, and that's what we were kind of expecting,” said Friend, who lives in north-central Arkansas.
But at noon Thursday, a volunteer on an all-terrain vehicle found Arteaga about two miles from where she started, in a wooden region close to St. Joe, Ark.
Arteaga She and her brother Eddie Huff, 56, went hiking Saturday, and in the midst of the hike, got lost.
Huff and Arteaga got separated, and Huff made it out of the woods Monday.
He told Friend that he and Arteaga had gotten lost, and that he thought he saw Arteaga, safe on the porch of a family member's nearby house.
It became clear to Friend, though, that Arteaga was missing Wednesday when Huff asked her if she had seen Arteaga.
Searcy County Sheriff Kenny Cassell said Thursday morning about 75 volunteers on foot, horse back and all-terrain vehicles started searching the area for Arteaga.
Arteaga was wearing a T-shirt, jeans and flip flops when she started her hike. She quickly lost the flip flops. To survive, she ate watercress, nuts and berries and drank water from a creek.
Friend said that doctors think some of the berries that Arteaga and Huff ate while lost might have been toxic and caused them to become confused. The berries' toxins and dehydration might have caused Huff to hallucinate.
Cassell said Arteaga told him she had prayed every night that God would keep her safe and help her get out of the woods.
“She said she knew he was there with her,” Cassell said. “She gave God the glory that he got her out.”