A 25-year-old woman has been found after going missing for nearly one month.
Authorities say the woman survived in the Alabama woods by eating wild berries and mushrooms and drinking from rivers and puddles.
Lisa Theris of Louisville, Ala. was first reported missing by her family on July 23. They said she was last seen on July 18, according to Central Alabama CrimeStoppers.
The radiology student’s disappearance sparked an extensive search as her family feared for her safety, according to authorities.
When she was found in the bushes along a highway by a woman driving by on Saturday, Theris was around 40 miles (64 km) away from where she was last spotted before she went missing.
Theris’ brother, Will, told CBS-affiliate WTVY that he found out his sister was located by a simple text from his mother.
“My family’s whole again and words can’t express how happy and thankful I am to see her face again and those bright blue eyes,” he said.
Theris is recovering at a local hospital surrounded by family.
“She has some complications and has a lot of healing to get through but she is standing strong and full of jokes as ever,” said her brother. “The next few weeks will be rough, but she is handling it all like a trooper and our family will continue to do all we can to help. We are very thankful for everyone’s thoughts and prayers.”
Investigators said Theris was with two men, Randall Oswald and Manly Davis, who were later arrested and charged for allegedly burglarizing a hunting cabin between July 17 and 18. Police said Theris did not want to be involved when she found out the men’s plan.
“She’s not familiar with this area and apparently on the night she ran, she went into the woods at night and got lost. I just thank God that she’s alive,” said Bullock County Sheriff Raymond Rodgers to NBC-affiliate WSFA.
Oswald and Davis have not been implicated in Theris’ disappearance but have been questioned, said police.
Rodgers said Theris lost 50 pounds during the ordeal. Disoriented, hungry and tired, she kept getting turned around in the thick woods and walked around in circles.
Deputy Chad Faulkner called Theris’ survival “amazing.”
“The will to live, it changes your mindset on anything. I wouldn’t drink water out of that puddle right there now but if that’s all I had, I’d drink it,” he said motioning towards a muddy puddle near the bush where Theris was found.
Police said they are continuing to investigate the circumstances of Theris’ disappearance and said more details will be released.
“There’s a whole lot more to this story,” said Faulkner. “It’s going to be sad and heartwarming at the same time.”