Barbara Briley and her five-year-old great-granddaughter, LaMyra, were traveling from New Jersey to Morven, North Carolina, on Christmas Eve when they went missing.
According to earlier reports, Briley, a retired transit driver, has made that exact drive to Morven at least once a year — sometimes even two or three times a year — to visit family.
— Kelly Avellino NBC12 (@KellyAvellino) December 27, 2016
The last place the 71-year-old great-grandmother was seen was at an Exxon gas station in Virginia. As WTVR reported, Briley had stopped to ask for directions— she needed the address of the gas station and help pulling up directions on her phone.
Three hours later, around 8:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Briley called her family to tell them she and LaMyra were still in Virginia, stuck in traffic.
When Briley and LaMyra never arrived at their destination, their family became worried and reported the pair missing. A multi-state search ensued.
Five days later, the duo was still nowhere to be found.
Then, a Virginia property owner noticed a strange vehicle from afar and went to check it out.
According to FOX 5, the landowner found Briley and LaMyra sitting against a tree. Briley was unconscious.
Major William Knott of the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office told the media that the property owner saw the initial missing persons report and knew who Briley and LaMyra were when they were found. The landowner immediately notified the police.
Knott says the landowner was instrumental in saving Briley’s and her great-granddaughter’s lives:
“Barbara Briley was ‘not responsive to questions’ when authorities arrived, but LaMyra, who has since been reunited with family, was ‘in good shape and very talkative.’”
Briley, who didn’t have any known medical conditions, was flown to VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia and has been labeled in serious condition. LaMyra was also evaluated by doctors there.
FOX 5 explains what the police believe happened:
“The [Virginia State Police] said evidence points to Briley having pulled off a dirt road into the woods and driven over a small tree, getting stuck in the remote area when she tried to back up. The two seem to have been there for several days but had drinks and snacks to get by.”
Briley’s family has declined to comment on the situation, according to the Associated Press.
Briley’s niece, Ginger Bittle, tells WSOC-TV that at the time her family went missing, she had faith Briley and LaMyra would be home soon:
“I kept looking out the door last night and my twin sister was like, ‘Why do you keep looking?’ Because I’m waiting for her to pull up in that driveway. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen.”
And while it didn’t happen in the fashion Brittle would have liked, thankfully LaMyra is back in the warm embrace of her family and Briley is getting the medical attention she needs.