Originally Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013, 1:40 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2013, 5:20 pm

Trapped woman rescued from ravine after 2 nights

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HERRIN, Ill. (AP) — An alert motorist was being credited with saving a woman who spent two nights trapped in her sport utility vehicle after it skidded off a southern Illinois road and down a ravine, coming to rest just short of a water-filled mining pit.

Alan Gary told WSIL-TV he saw unusual tire marks Wednesday while driving on a Williamson County road he frequently uses. He stopped and followed the marks. Eventually, he noticed damaged bushes and the SUV at the bottom of the ravine, near the mining crater filled with water 50 to 60 feet deep.

Gary said he heard a woman's voice but couldn't reach her without sliding down the ravine himself, so he called sheriff's deputies.

Had 68-year-old Billie Earl's vehicle gone much farther, "ain't no doubt the car would have sunk," Gary said.

The Herrin woman, who had been reported missing Monday, was responsive to emergency crews and was sent to a hospital for treatment. Earl's injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Her relatives said she didn't have her cellphone and medication when she became stranded. She also went without food or water. It's not clear what medication she uses.

Authorities still were trying to determine why Earl's SUV left the road.