A 79-year-old Washington woman was found wandering in a remote wooded section of the Fort Lincoln tract yesterday by police searchers who said she may have been lost there without food or drink since Sunday.
The woman, Carlene Austin, who reported in good condition last night after her release from Providence Hospital, where she was fed and treated for minor abrasions.
Described by the pastor of her church as a healthy, self-sufficient woman who prizes her independence, Austin became the object of an intensive police search after she was reported missing on Wednesday.
After being found by members of a team of more than 30 searchers, she gave police and her son, Cortez, slightly varying accounts of her adventures, misadventures and experiences during the past few days.
Fifth District police Lt. Joseph Maddox said Austin told police that her car became stuck in the mud on a gravel road deep within the Fort Lincoln tract on her way home from church Sunday.
According to Maddox, Austin said she had walked to her home, which is not far away, then returned to her car after realizing she had left her glasses and pocketbook inside.
After returning to the tract, Maddox reported, Austin located her car but could not find her way out of the tract and began wandering.
A police helicopter spotted the abandoned auto from the air Wednesday, and police began making inquiries. Meanwhile, family members had been unable to reach Austin and Wednesday reported her missing.
Lt. Maddox said the police investigation indicated that she had not been seen since leaving services at St. Fancis de Sales Church Sunday.
However, her son said she told him that she had driven to a hairdresser Monday but had become lost on the Fort Lincoln tract while returning home.
In addition, he said , she told him in a brief conversation after she was found that she had been given lodging at least one night this week at a home on the Fort Lincoln tract, where a new town is being developed.
The son said he had not yet been able to check details of his mother's account.
"We were under quite a strain," he said, of the period during which she had been missing. When she was found unharmed, he said, "we were overjoyed."