Laura Hatch’s family had almost given her up for dead, and sheriff’s deputies in Washington state had all but written her off as a runaway.
Then she was found, badly hurt and severely dehydrated, but alive and conscious, in the back seat of her crumpled Toyota Camry. A volunteer searcher, who said she had had several vivid dreams of a wooded area, found the wrecked car in the trees. “It’s an extraordinary tale of survival,” said King County sheriff’s Sergeant John Urquhart.
Dr Richard Ellenbogen, chief neurosurgeon at Harborview Medical Centre in Seattle, said a blood clot toward the right rear side of Laura’s brain from the crash could have proved fatal had it grown. It probably remained small because of her dehydration, he said.
Laura remained in serious condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit, a day after she was found in Redmond, a Seattle suburb.
Dr Ellenbogen said Hatch was disoriented, thinking only a day had passed and unable to remember the crash or what she did in the days before her rescue, but managed to joke with him. He described her as articulate and clever and “in amazing shape for someone lost for eight days”.
Doctors were rehydrating Laura while carefully monitoring her condition, and the blood clot could dissolve on its own, he said.