Woman Lost In Woods For Three Hours Found

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Payson resident Barbara Zirinsky was found by her husband Paul Pfeifer on the East Verde River, about four miles west of Houston-Mesa Road, after she became lost Monday.

Zirinsky was reported missing at 1:30 p.m. Monday after she apparently became disoriented and became lost while hiking in the Freedom Acres area.

Lt. Tim Scott, with the Gila County Sheriff's Department, said Zirinsky was reported missing by a family member.

"She apparently got turned around and just couldn't find her way back. Luckily, she had her cell phone with her and was able to get a signal and call for help," said Scott.

Constable Sam Brewer spoke with Zirinsky on her cell phone and gave her directions to help searchers locate her.

Scott told Brewer she was close to the Verde River, and he gave her instructions and directions to the Beaver Valley/Houston Mesa Road area where she was reunited with her husband about three hours later, at approximately 6:30 p.m.

No injuries were sustained by Zirinsky, said Scott.

Scott said one of the reasons she was found so quickly was because she had her cell phone to call for help.

"Some cell phones allow GPS tracking, which makes it much easier to locate someone who is lost.

"If we can get a good reading on their location, then we can pinpoint them on topographic maps and go right to them, without having to search vast areas," Scott said.

Scott said when a person is lost, the best bet is to stay put and wait for help if there is no immediate need to leave the area.

If however, a person becomes lost and does not have a cell phone or GPS device with them, Scott offered some tips on how best to help searchers find them.

"First of all, always tell someone where you are going and when to expect you to return."

"Wearing bright colors, like orange, yellow or red can make it a lot easier to spot someone from the air, or from a distance, it helps to make them stand out from their surroundings," Scott said.

Finding some high, clear ground where a person can be seen as easily as possible and then staying put are good ways to aid authorities and searchers to locate someone, Scott said.

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