Navajo Police Department at Window Rock locate missing Pinon picker near Hunters Point

Navajo Police Department Logo (Photo/NPD)

Navajo Police Department Logo (Photo/NPD)

HUNTERS POINT, Ariz. — An elderly piñon picker was found safe after being reported missing the afternoon of Nov. 10. The family believed the woman, a diabetic, was lost in the mountains near Hunters Point. The Navajo Police Department Window Rock District Sgt. Wallace Billie and Officer Marshall Spiers, along with the assistance of the Navajo Nation Fire and Rescue Station #10, and the family of the missing person, began searching for the individual.

At approximately 7:58 p.m., the missing woman was found safe in a heavily wooded area. She was evaluated by medical personnel but refused medical transportation.

When the woman was found, the outside temperature was 25-30 degrees F, Billie said. He stated she was scared and could barely walk. Her cell phone stopped working so she was basically without a light.

“It’s a good thing, I just kept running that certain area, going back and forth, stopping, hitting my siren, saying her name on the PA system,” Billie said. “I would sit there with my engine off, just listening. For some reason, I decided to stay in that area and kept at it. I came back and I sat there. I hit my siren again. Then, I’d hear something and I’d get out of my unit. I’d stand there listening and I couldn’t hear anything. Then, I’d get back in my unit and hit the siren again and say her name again. I’d hear something again, get out of my unit and then I’d yell her name.

“Then, all of a sudden, I heard, ‘Over here! I’m over here!’ I had to drive through a bunch of trees to get to her location because she said she couldn’t walk no more. She was using a stick as a walking cane. She only had a pullover on and that was drenched because it had lightly sprinkled that evening. I just walked up to her and said, ‘Sgt. Billie, Navajo Police, we’ll take care of you now.’ She was shivering so I gave her my jacket. She was telling me that when she first heard me, she started crying.”

The Navajo Police Department said they thank Billie, who has been with the department 32 years, for his patience and compassion. They also thanked Spiers, Navajo Nation Fire and Rescue Station 10 and the family members of the missing person.

This isn’t the first time piñon pickers went missing. About a month ago, an elderly Crownpoint couple picking piñons walked away from their vehicle and got lost. They were found safe about 13 miles south of the Summit, between Pine Springs and the Summit area.

Billie wants those who plan on going piñon picking to stay safe and has given some tips.

Piñon picking safety:

Do some homework about the area you plan on traveling to.

Let family members know your location, your time of arrival and your time of return.

Pack a flashlight with extra batteries.

Bring extra warm clothes.

Be prepared that you may lose cell coverage at your location.

Mark your trail.

If you are able to, try to get the coordinates of where your vehicle may be parked or where you may be located.

Maintain communication with your family of your location.

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