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Woman lost in state park found by rescuers

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A 73-year-old Pittsburgh woman spent the night in Laurel Ridge State Park with her dog after she lost her bearings, according to park Manager Michael Mumau.

Jane Connelly was found Friday morning by a search group and left with her family and dog, Zippy, Mumau said.

“She's a very fit, very experienced hiker,” he said.

The 13,625-acre park stretches from the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown, spanning Westmoreland, Fayette, Somerset and Cambria counties.

Connelly and a male companion were hiking along the Laurel Highlands Trail in the Fayette County area of the park on Thursday when they became separated. When she didn't return to a vehicle at a pre-designated time, search teams were deployed Thursday evening, Mumau said.

“She had become disoriented as to which direction she was heading” and by the time she gained her bearings, it grew dark, so she camped out, he said.

“Last night, with all things considered, was a good night for that to happen,” Mumau said.

The temperature dipped only into the upper 50s overnight, according to the National Weather Service, more than 10 degrees higher than average for early October.

High temperatures for the weekend are expected to reach only the 50s, with lows dropping into the 30s.

Mumau praised the search groups for coming together quickly. Members of the search groups included Connelly's family, two local fire departments, state police, local search and rescue teams and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“When someone needs help, there's a tremendous outpouring of rescue parties in the Laurel Highland region,” he said.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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