A Lake County woman who disappeared on the Fourth of July -- her 92nd birthday -- is fortunate to be alive, police said, after being found nearly a day later in a grassy area near her home.
"A few more hours, she would have succumbed," said Brian Keller, chief of operations for the Lake County sheriff's office.
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"There's no doubt, they saved her for another day," he said of rescuers.
The unidentified woman was found by a K-9 named Conan and his handler, Deputy Bob Bell, just before midnight Thursday. She was curled in a fetal position in tall grass about 100 yards from her home in unincorporated Wauconda Township in southwestern Lake County, officials said.
Sheriff's police responded to a call on North Darrell Road in an unincorporated area of far western Lake County that has a McHenry mailing address.
Police said they spoke with the woman's sons, who said their mother was last seen about 2 a.m. Thursday. One son woke up about noon and thought his mother had gone out to breakfast with his brother, Keller said.
When the brother returned about 6 p.m., they realized she was missing, police said.
No one in the neighborhood had seen her, and the sons and several neighbors searched for her without success. Sheriff's police were called about 7:15 p.m. and conducted an extensive search with neighbors that also turned up empty.
Several hours later, Bell and Conan responded. The dog sniffed a pillow the woman had used and went to work, Keller said.
The woman was found three minutes before her birthday ended in tall grass west of Darrell Road. Keller said the area is composed of woods, water and fields.
She was sunburned, mosquito bitten and dehydrated, Keller said.
"If she stayed out there overnight, she would have been dead," he said.
The woman appeared confused and unable to walk or stand without assistance, police said. She was taken to Centegra Hospital in McHenry for treatment.