Officials: Rescued mother likely survived 4 days on cliff face

Posted at 6:53 AM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 06:53:28-04

FLORENCE, OR (KATU/CNN) – A missing mother from Oregon was found on and rescued from a cliff face nearly four days after she last talked with family on the phone.

The U.S. Coast Guard hoisted Heather Mounce off a cliff in Florence, OR, around 2 p.m. Wednesday. She had been reported missing after family members hadn’t heard from her since Saturday, police say.

Investigators initially found her car parked along the highway. They determined she wasn’t abducted but drove to the coast of her own free will.

“Family members and possibly other volunteers have been basically searching around the clock for her since she went missing,” said Lt. Jerry Mott with the Dallas, OR, Police Department.

Finally, the woman’s husband spotted her somewhere off the highway near where her vehicle was discovered, Coast Guard officials say.

“Originally, the husband found her. He looked down on the cliffs, saw her, waved, and she waved back,” said Ali Flockerzi with the Coast Guard.

When local fire crews couldn’t get Mounce off the cliffs, the Coast Guard was called in.

“They just had strong winds for the rescue, and they hoisted her off the cliff face from an altitude of about 280 feet. She was recovered with just minor injuries, just bruises,” said Lt. Chad Perdue with the Coast Guard.

Bystanders were on hand to capture the moment.

“As soon as we could see that, you know, as soon as she was on the end of the rope and in the air, we could tell that she was alive and certainly alert and moving,” witness Jared Smith said.

Details of exactly what happened to Mounce haven’t been released, but officials say she may have spent four days on the treacherous cliff face.

“Logic would tell me that is the case, but I couldn't say for absolute certainty,” Mott said.

Mounce’s family is thrilled for her safe return.

“One wouldn't think that someone could live in that really harsh terrain for four days,” Smith said.

Mounce was transported to the hospital, where she is reportedly in good condition.

Copyright 2017 KATU, Harlie Mounce, Jared Smith, U.S. Coast Guard via CNN. All rights reserved.