DAVID ZALAZNIK/Journal Star
Sandy Neese, who spent the night outdoors after becoming lost in rough terrain near her rural Edelstein home, embraces her husband, Alan, Thursday morning. Peoria County Sheriff’s Posse deputy Beth Coats and Sgt. Rich Murray found Neese in a ravine where she had spent the night with her dog, Layla.
Woman found safe after night in woods
PEORIA JOURNAL STAR
EDELSTEIN — A woman who took her dog to search for another missing pet Wednesday night ended up spending 14 hours lost in a heavily wooded ravine but emerged from the forest unscathed.
Sandra Neese, 59, was found muddy but uninjured about a mile from her home in the 500 block of West Horseshoe Trail by volunteers with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Posse on horseback.
She told her rescuers and her husband, Peoria pediatrician Dr. Allen Neese, that the couple’s dog, Layla, stayed with her throughout the night as she heard coyotes prowling the forest around her.
“She didn’t leave me one second,” Sandra Neese said of the dog.
She had left her home on Horseshoe Trail at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday with Layla to look for Lady, her daughter’s dog, which still hasn’t been found.
Family called the Peoria County Sheriff’s Department to report her missing shortly before 11 p.m. after she hadn’t returned.
Allen Neese said the search lasted throughout the night, and that he apparently had been near the area where she was found about 3 a.m.
“We went in and yelled and made a ruckus and woke all the neighbors,” he said.
But the spot where she was waiting apparently was in an area that was extremely difficult to navigate and didn’t carry sound well.
Sgt. Rich Murray with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Posse estimated that he had passed within 100 yards of Sandra Neese at least once during the morning, but the forest was so dense and the ravine so steep that neither could hear the other’s calls.
“She was down in a draw and we couldn’t hear her,” he said. “It’s steep terrain; you can hardly even walk a lot of it.”
Miller helped Sandra Neese atop his horse about 9:30 a.m. and had her reunited with her husband on a rural road in the vicinity within 20 minutes.