“I was actually checking to make sure that our solar-powered bird feeders were working correctly,” said Forest Service employee Mike Hinton. “I was testing the output on a corroded battery when I heard a noise.”
For eleven long days, the family of a woman killed in a car crash along a Northern California road was searching desperately for her beloved pet. Lena, a 4-year-old German Shepherd mix, had last been seen running from the single-car rollover on May 30th on Highway 139 in the Modoc National Forest.
Jamey Gerhard Johnson, 48, was found dead in her car.
“We knew that she took Lena with her,” said Jamey’s Uncle, John Gerhard. “That was her custom and the dog wasn’t at her house. After loosing Jamey, it was really important to us to try and find Lena.”
But after several days of frantic search parties, friends and family had pretty much given up hope.
“We all came out here every day and into the evenings with flashlights,” said Jamey’s sister, Kristen Belle. “But we didn’t have any luck.”
The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office even issued a call for the public’s help in finding the dog.
On Sunday morning, June 10th, Forest Service employee Mike Hinton found Lena in the area near the accident, 12 miles northwest of the town of Canby.
She was in good health.
“She came right up to me and sniffed my hand,” said Hinton. “We were actually just thirty feet or so from where Miss Johnson had her wreck. You could still see glass in the dirt and little bits of plastic.”
Lena was turned over to the sheriff’s office and was reunited that afternoon with Johnson’s family in Oregon.
“We’re really just happy to have her back,” said John Gerhard. “It probably seems silly, but we just wanted this piece of Jamey to be with us. That’s what she would have wanted. She loved this dog like she was her child.”
As for Mike Hinton, local news media is calling him a hero.
“I don’t think so, I was just at the right place, at the right time,” he said.
Do you believe in miracles?