BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
It's the happy ending for which some nearly gave up hope.
On Monday, a Greene County resident who had been missing in West Virginia for nearly two weeks was safely recovered by a volunteer rescuer.
Charlene Morgan Hankins, 55, of 1165 Browns Bridge Road, is recovering from a few scrapes and dehydration at Boone Memorial Hospital, according to her daughter, Rebecca Horton.
Hankins went missing on Aug. 7 after placing a phone call about 6 p.m. from a nursing home in Logan, W.Va., where she was visiting family.
Hankins called her mother to say she was on her way to visit. Her estimated driving time was 45 minutes.
Hours passed and her family became concerned, reporting her missing that day.
Media reports from West Virginia indicate the local police located Hankins' car on a dirt road in the Twilight area of Boone County, W.Va., on Saturday.
Horton, of Greeneville, said the road and surrounding area was a deserted mining location that Hankins' GPS had her travel.
Although skeptical of the road's condition, Horton said Hankins continued when the GPS said she was only eight miles from her mother's home.
"She came to a big, steep hill, and her car couldn't make it up that hill," Horton said. "She tried and tried to get up that hill and ran out of gas."
Hankins spent the first night in her vehicle, but when no one came down the deserted roadway, she began hiking through the woods the next day.
On the second day, she lost her shoes and was completely lost in the woods.
"She said, 'I talked to each and every one of you kids each day,'" her daughter reported.
Horton also said that, as the days passed and her mother became discouraged, Hankins kept telling herself, "I'm getting out of these mountains, and I'm not going to die."
At some point, Horton said her mother made it to the top of the mountain, but was never able to find her way out, becoming weak from lack of food and water.
Meanwhile, local police brought in tracking and cadaver dogs on Sunday, with little success due to rain having washed away the trail from her vehicle.
Horton said her mother reported she heard the dogs on Sunday, but wasn't able to get anyone's attention until Monday morning, when she heard an all-terrain vehicle.
She began screaming and crawling in the direction she heard the noise, effectively capturing the attention of the young man who was searching the area, Horton said.
"[Mark Miller] that lives down there in Twilight had posted on Facebook that he was going to look for her," Horton said. "He packed her a lunch: a Pepsi and a ham sandwich. He found her and brought her out on a four-wheeler to the family."
Miller had gotten an earlier start than the local police departments' search parties, who were just beginning to unload their all-terrain vehicles when he rolled in with Hankins on board, Horton said.
"She's fine," her daughter said, relief and tears evident in her voice. "She's got some scratches and some bug bites. It's just such a relief. I just thank God.
"People say, 'You're lucky; you're lucky.' She's not lucky. She's blessed. God sent her back to us."