Woman and her dog rescued after more than 15 hours in wooded area

NEW WAVERLY, Texas (KTRK) -- Sherrie Sivley won't soon forget the night of May 15, 2018.

"It was quite an adventure, " she told Eyewitness News.

She was hiking a familiar trail in the woods, not far from her house with her dog Bubba when she lost her direction.

"I pretty much tried to find my way, because I found deer camps and stuff like that," she explained. "Wide open where I could walk, I tried to look west and things like that."

When that didn't work, she immediately called her dad on her dying cell phone.

"I went over there with my truck and started honking my horn so she could hear me and come on out of the woods," said Louis Silvey. "But she went the wrong direction."

That brought the cavalry. Three fire departments, dogs, a drone, a helicopter, and 35 people from the volunteer Montgomery County Search and Rescue searched for Sivley. Steve Degner was the incident commander.

"It was a coordinated effort," said Degner. "It was a big team effort. And the biggest success is when we find somebody alive and well. It's the best thing in the world."

The helicopter spotted her using infrared and guided searchers to Sivley. Fifteen hours after it began, she was safe.

"What a group of rescuers and all involved," she said. "I was amazed. So they did a wonderful job. They're very special."

Silvey said she never panicked. That was the first of the good things she did, says rescuers.

She also had a cell phone with her, even though it died. And once definitively lost, she stayed in one place to make it easier for rescuers to find her.

There are other things she could have done that would have made the recovery faster, including bringing a whistle.

"A lot of people say, 'Why a whistle?'" explained Degner. "It carries louder, longer, and it takes less effort to blow a whistle."

Silvey said she would go hiking there again, as she has in the past, but she'd do it differently next time.

"I'll tell you what," she said with a chuckle, "it taught me a lesson. I would bring things that would help me, in case that ever happened again."

Other advice about the do's and don'ts of hiking alone includes:

  • Don't panic.
  • Let somebody know where/when/how long you'll be hiking.
  • Bring water/cell/whistle, and
  • Stay in one spot if lost.

For more information, go to the Montgomery County Search & Rescue website.
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