Woman missing for more than 36 hours after car crash found alive in woods

An Alabama woman who was missing for more than 36 hours after crashing her car into a wooded area was found alive Sunday following a massive search by multiple agencies.

Lisa Michelle Holman, 45, of Chelsea, went missing following a crash overnight Friday in a heavily wooded area of Shelby County near Pelham. CBS 42 in Birmingham reported that Holman's car went down a 20-foot embankment before stopping.

Pelham police officials reported that when Holman's vehicle was spotted early Saturday morning, she was nowhere to be found. Police officers, sheriff's deputies, firefighters and hundreds of volunteers spread out over the rough terrain.

The search was fruitless throughout the cold, rainy day Saturday, despite efforts that included searching by air with a drone provided by a local rotary club, Vestavia Hills Fire Department officials said. Central Alabama was under a flood watch throughout the day as storms moved through the area. 

The search crews suspended their efforts overnight but started fresh Sunday morning. Holman was found around 8:30 a.m.

Amy Miller, who described herself to the CBS affiliate as Holman's best friend, told the station that Holman described what happened after the crash.

"She thinks she lost consciousness after the crash, and then she got her purse and shoes and placed them outside the car (and) climbed out through the back," Miller said. "Once she got out the car, she knelt down to find her purse and searched around and couldn't find it; it was so dark. Once that happened, she continued to look for her purse and the car was gone."

Holman told her friend that she found a rock overhang and used it for shelter until search crews found her Sunday morning, the news station reported.

Holman’s family said in a statement that she suffered only a few broken bones and other minor injuries in the ordeal. A cameraman from Birmingham’s WBRC captured the moment she was brought out of the woods and loaded onto an ambulance to be taken to a hospital for treatment.

Holman appeared wet and cold, but otherwise healthy.

The family said that her rescue was “definitely an answered prayer.”

"Her ability to withstand these injuries, the weather conditions, and the length of time in the woods is a testament to her resiliency," read the statement, which was released through police officials.

The family also thanked the emergency responders and multitude of volunteers who helped search for Holman and, ultimately, brought her home alive.

"We are grateful to be part of a close-knit community that never hesitated when their assistance was needed," the statement read.

One volunteer, Brian Nethery, shared a photo of a young man named Ryan who was walking from the scene barefoot. Nethery wrote on Facebook that the young man walked that way through the woods because he gave his coat, socks and shoes to Holman to help warm her up after she was found.

Nethery wrote on Facebook that the photo echoed the hearts of all the people who volunteered to find Holman.

“Hundreds of people selflessly and without hesitation put their lives on hold for one, but to us, that one was our daughter, our mom, our wife and our friend,” Nethery wrote.

Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer also issued a statement thanking all involved in the rescue, calling the operation a “true community effort.”

"We are thankful to serve a community where help and support is offered at a moment's notice," Palmer said. "We are so happy this situation had a good ending."

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