Garnett woman survives cold temperatures in remote area of Flint Hills

Chase County Sheriff Richard Dorneker says the discovery of Garnett resident Debra Johnston was, as he puts it, "sort of miraculous."


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Johnston went missing Wednesday on the Kansas Turnpike between Emporia and Matfield Green. She was found in rural Chase County about six to seven miles south of where her car was found. Johnston was found right as a major winter storm was starting to impact the area.

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Dorneker says Johnston has not said why she left her car behind. Johnston apparently had stayed at the residence since Thursday, so she beat the worst of the weather. She has been taken to an unspecified medical facility for various evaluations.

The search for Johnston began in earnest Friday morning. Authorities from several jurisdictions, including Lyon, Chase and Greenwood counties, were involved in the search as were numerous volunteers, a helicopter and several rescue dogs.

3:45 pm: Johnston found safe

The Garnett woman missing since Wednesday afternoon has been found alive.

Chase County Sheriff Richard Dorneker confirmed 51-year-old Debra Johnston was found in rural Chase County on Saturday.

Dorneker did not say how Johnston was faring medically. He also had no immediate details on where Johnston was found.

Dorneker tells KVOE News authorities from several jurisdictions, including Lyon, Chase and Greenwood counties, and volunteers teamed up with a helicopter and rescue dogs to search southeast of Kansas Turnpike milepost 108 on Friday. They resumed their search around 7 am Saturday.

Before she disappeared on the Kansas Turnpike, she was seen at her place of employment in Garnett wearing a brown sweatshirt, tan or brown pants and was carrying a red backpack. Dorneker says Johnston was probably not dressed warmly enough to handle the cold temperatures that settled across the area Thursday.

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