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Woman ate tomatoes, snow while stranded in Sierra

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A Nevada woman survived on snow and tomatoes for nearly a week and found shelter in a hollowed-out tree after she was stranded in a winter storm and her boyfriend died trying to find help, a family member said.

Paula Lane of Gardnerville was rescued Wednesday on a dirt road in the Sierra Nevada after her brother, suspecting the couple might have returned to Burnside Lake where they had camped before, took a highway front loader to look for her, the Nevada Appeal reported.

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Lane, 46, was recovering from frostbite at a Carson City hospital after six nights in the frigid Hope Valley in California’s Alpine County.

Lane and Roderick Paul Clifton, 44, were reported missing after they left Citrus Heights, Calif., on Nov. 29.

Alpine County Undersheriff Robert Levy said Clifton had recently bought the 1989 Jeep Cherokee and wanted to try out its four-wheel-drive when he drove around a locked gate blocking access to a road.

After their Jeep got stuck in mud, Clifton tried to hike out to Highway 88, about six miles away, authorities said. His body was found on a dirt road on US Forest Service land that was barricaded to traffic because of stormy weather.

After getting stuck, Levy said Clifton tried to hike out alone to find help. Lane stayed in the car and days later left it.

‘‘She realized after she left [the Jeep] that she couldn’t make it, so she had a blanket and tomatoes and stayed in a hollowed tree until rescued,’’ he said. ‘‘She was very lucky.’’

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