Benson woman spends night in woods
By Darren Marcy
Staff Writer | November 20,2013
BENSON — A Benson woman was found about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday after she spent a night lost in the woods.
Vermont State Police said Francheska Chalidze, 78, of Benson was last seen at 11:30 a.m. Monday at her home on Herrick Road in Benson. But it is believed she went for a walk about 3 p.m., didn’t make it back before dark and became lost.
She was reported missing about 11:25 p.m.
Lisa Chalidze of Benson said her sister-in-law’s housemate reported her missing as soon as she discovered she had not returned from her walk.
Francheska Chalidze suffered a stroke about one year ago. She did not lose cognitive abilities, her sister in law said, but she was robbed of her speech.
Chalidze was dressed for the outdoors, but not an overnight stay in the woods. She was wearing a white coat and a hunter-orange cap.
“I think she just went out for a walk,” Vermont State Police Lt. Charles Cacciatore said. “She enjoys walking and this was just one of those situations where it got away from her.”
Lisa Chalidze said her sister-in-law spent most of the night walking to stay warm as snow fell and wind blew.
A search was launched when Francheska Chalidze was reported missing. Volunteers searched throughout the night, and a helicopter was launched as soon as it was safe Tuesday morning.
Chalidze was spotted by the crew of a Customs and Border Protection helicopter at about 7:30 a.m., a few miles from her home.
She appeared to be in good health and good spirits despite the night in the woods and was treated by the Fair Haven Rescue Squad, police said.
“I’m just glad she is OK,” Cacciatore said. “Everybody did a super job working together and locating her.”
Vermont State Police, the Benson Fire Department and New England K9 Search and Rescue joined in the search. Wardens from the state Fish & Wildlife Department were on their way when the woman was located.