CARLSBAD, NM (KCBD) - Eighteen days, two organized searches and 150 volunteers -- that's what it's been like since 64-year-old Judy McCullough went missing on her way from Hobbs, New Mexico to Denver City, March 18th. She is now with her family safe and sound. But there are still many questions.
"She said no they found her alive and I was freaking out," said Keri Fenton. It was the phone call she and her family had anxiously awaited and hoped for. "I got to the point where we might never find her, it was surreal," says Fenton. They packed their bags and drove 180 miles with their flashers on to be by her side at the hospital.
McCullough was found in Eddy County, 15 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico and over an hour's drive from where she was last seen. "A family was four-wheeling and they noticed the Chrysler in a not Chrysler friendly area. They went over there and she was there," says Fenton.
She was found disoriented and dehydrated, with an empty tank and a dead battery. Fenton says there's only one word to describe this ordeal - miracle. "All she says is I don't know and I'm sorry," she adds.
The family says they don't know where she got it or how she paid for it, but they know it's something that saved her life. It was the bottled water, snacks and chips, all empty in her car.
Captain Leon Newton with the Eddy County Sheriff's Office took NewsChannel 11 about a mile away from where McCullough was found. But due to the rough terrain - he told us that was as close as we could get.
"I don't understand how she made it that far, in her vehicle it's amazing," says Cpt. Newton. He says it was purely accidental that someone found her. "We're three miles off anything we'd consider a roadway," adds Cpt. Newton. He said her car was high-centered and stuck in a ravine.
But someone did find her and for Fenton and her family this story has a happy ending. "She could have been out there forever before someone found her," says Fenton.
But where she spent the last 18 days remains a mystery. McCullough is in good condition at the Carlsbad Medical Center where she is expected to stay a few more days.
Weekend search set for missing Denver City woman
A second search for Judy McCullough will begin Saturday morning in Andrews County.