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Mom missing for 5 days found alive in ravine

Search crews on Monday night found a missing mother of two alive in a ravine, where she had been stranded for five days after her car veered off the highway.
/ Source: TODAY staff and wire

CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. -- Search crews on Monday night found a missing mother of two alive in a ravine, where she had been stranded for five days after her car veered off the highway.

Amber Pennell, 21, was reported missing last Wednesday night when she didn't come home from her job at a restaurant in the mountain town of Lenoir, about 75 miles northwest of Charlotte.

Authorities say Pennell's car crossed the center line and veered off Highway 321 north of Lenoir, falling 75-80 feet into a ravine.

Caldwell County Emergency Management workers and sheriff's deputies were searching Monday evening when one of them found her. She was dehydrated but able to talk to rescue workers.

Pennell was pulled up from the ravine in a rescue basket and flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

Investigators believe Pennell's car went airborne, and that's why it was hard to see where it left the roadway.

Caldwell County sheriff's deputies had been searching for Pennell since she was reported missing Wednesday. Volunteers had put up missing persons posters all over town, with Pennell's face and description.

Detectives had said they worried Pennell might have crashed on her route home, which is filled with sharp turns and steep cliffs.

Pennell's husband told NewsChannel 36 that his wife suffered a few broken bones, but she was awake and coherent. He said he believes she survived those five days with sheer willpower; her daughter's third birthday is later this week, and Pennell wants to be there for her children.