By Logan Smith

MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman her 3-year-old and 18-month-old children were located late Thursday morning by aircraft after they spent two nights in the northwestern Colorado wilderness. Sadly, the 18-month-old had not survived.

The 36-year-old mother of the two girls, Kaylee Messerly, and the surviving toddler were taken to Memorial Regional Health in Craig. Both were suffering from exposure-related injuries, according to the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office.

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The three were located approximately 1 mile from their vehicle.

An oil field employee discovered the woman’s vehicle near the intersections of Moffat County Roads 54 & 103, about 6 miles north of Craig. It was stuck in mud and snow. However, no one was inside the vehicle.

The oil field employee called authorities around 8 a.m., according to Lt. Chip McIntyre of the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office. A search was launched immediately.

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The area had received a small amount of snowfall overnight, McIntyre told CBS4, but the weather conditions improved for an air search. McIntyre said searchers felt fortunate to have those favorable conditions develop.

The woman was found walking with her children among sagebrush and not close to any road, McIntyre said.

Searchers aboard a tracked UTV transported the woman and toddler to an ambulance.

McIntyre said MCSO investigators are still looking into the details of the incident.

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Personnel from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and Moffat County Search & Rescue staffed the search operation. The aircraft that found the woman and children was provided by Mountain Air Spray Co.

Logan Smith