Lost and desperate for help, a woman was finally discovered by visitors of the North Dakota national park.
The 19-year-old was suffering from brutal cold after two nights of subzero temperatures and brutal wind chills in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Later, she’d learn her left foot would be amputated.
“She looked like a zombie,” John Mallon, one of the visitors who found the woman, told The Bismarck Tribune last month. “Her hands were blue and looked like she had a gash of the worst kind.”
The woman wore tennis shoes, thin pajama-type pants, a hooded sweatshirt and a coat “that wasn’t very thick at all,” Lindsey Tatum, the other visitor, told the newspaper.
Two days earlier, on Jan. 25, the woman’s boyfriend, Clancey Lucas Lone Fight, led law enforcement on a high-speed chase through the park in a stolen pickup — speeding past herds of bison and horses on the narrow road with 100-foot drop-offs, authorities say. He lost law enforcement and drove off-road through three miles of back-country, over vegetation and past archaeological sites, authorities say.
When Lone Fight and his girlfriend came upon an impassable section of roadway, they abandoned the truck. When she couldn’t keep up, Lone Fight is accused of dragging the woman through brush and wrapping his arm around her neck to punch her jaw, authorities say. At some point, they separated.
Meanwhile, law enforcement had launched an extensive search effort.
“Our main goal was to get them out of the weather conditions,” Billings County Chief Deputy Dean Wyckoff told The Dickinson Press. “We thought they would probably freeze to death overnight or any extent of time,”
The rescue teams used police dogs, drones, an airplane and tracking team to follow footprints, the newspaper reported. But they didn’t find Lone Fight or the woman.
Authorities say Lone Fight took shelter in a cave or bluff the first night before hitchhiking to safety, leaving his girlfriend behind, The Dickinson Press reported. After another night in the park, she was driven to safety by the two visitors, the newspaper reported.
“She was looking really bad and there was a moment I thought she was going to die in the back of my car because her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she started to lean all the way to the right,” Mallon told the newspaper.
On Thursday, Lone Fight was arrested on federal charges of domestic assault by a habitual offender and assault by striking, beating or wounding.
The woman was treated for cold-exposure injuries in Minnesota, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
“How she survived I have no idea,” Billings County Sheriff Pat Rummel told the newspaper.