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Woman, missing 5 days, found alive in ravine

A Caldwell County mother who disappeared five days earlier was found alive Monday night at the bottom of a ravine in her wrecked pickup truck, 100 feet off U.S. 321.

A search team found Amber Clarke Pennell after following muddy tire tracks down a kudzu-covered ravine where her Toyota apparently crashed on her way home from work on the night of Aug. 20, said Detective B.J. Fore.

With a broken leg and internal injuries, Pennell was able to speak with rescuers, who found her about 8 p.m.

“They would not give up,” Fore said. “They wanted to try one more time so they could finish before it started raining again.”

Pennell, who has two children, was last seen when she left her job at a restaurant in Lenoir and headed home to the Buffalo Cove area of Caldwell County. Her husband reported her missing about 2 a.m.

Since then search teams had combed the route day and night. On Monday, a 24-person team decided to search a little farther off the highway, Fore said.

The accident happened about two miles north of Lenoir when Pennell apparently lost control, crossed a median and careened down the embankment.

The N.C. Highway Patrol is investigating the wreck.