Mom, daughter get lost near monument for 2 days

Ila and Deanna Bell will never do that again.

The Grand Junction residents took what they thought was to be a leisurely drive Sunday to take advantage of last weekend’s free entry into Colorado National Monument.

Armed with two bottles of Pepsi and two foot-long Subway sandwiches, the women drove their white Dodge Caravan onto the monument from the Fruita side. Their plan was to drive along Rim Rock Drive toward Glade Park and then head back to town. But things didn’t quite turn out that way.

Ila, who’s 84 and uses a walker to get around, and Deanna, her 65-year-old daughter, got their van stuck somewhere near the Little Dolores River for two nights.

“The right front tire got into a hole that I couldn’t get out of Sunday about noon, and some guys came Tuesday morning and helped us out,” said Deanna, who doesn’t know the identities of the men who rescued them. “We had a little bit of soda left, which we stretched out. Then the rains came on Monday, so we caught maybe a half cup from that.”

Exactly where the two were, they can’t say. All they really know is they made it as far as the Glade Park Store and ended up on a dirt road near the river.

Deanna said she tried to use her cell phone to get help, but there was no signal. She then tried to dig the car out, but had no shovel. Finally, she attempted to walk up a hill to get a signal on her phone, but her asthma prevented her from getting far.

“We didn’t suffer that much, but Deanna was quite miserable with her asthma and the heat,” Ila said. “We didn’t get frightened. We weren’t gone long enough to be in danger.”

Since no one knew they were gone, authorities weren’t alerted to begin a search.

Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said even though it was clear the two had left the monument, she invited them back for a free guided tour. She said it’s not unusual for hikers to get disoriented on some trails, but she never has heard of a motorist getting stuck.

“We had no reports, of course, none, of anyone stuck or missing or in trouble,” Anzelmo said. “If we can ever help them in the future with a visit to the monument, which they must have been trying to see that day, we would love to help them.”

The two took a scolding from family members about the incident. While they won’t promise never to go on another drive, they do plan to stick to the main roads.

They also plan to be better prepared.

“The kids said we’re never to go on a dirt road again,” Ila said with a laugh. “We decided we’re going to stock this little van with bottles of water and food, and maybe a shovel.

“We wanted to keep this in the family, so I want to know who snitched.”


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