By Logan Smith

MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Investigators with the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office are looking into the circumstances of a woman’s excursion onto a backcountry road that left she and her two young children stranded for two nights and resulted in the death of her youngest, an 18-month-old girl.

An autopsy of the infant is planned Friday in Grand Junction. She was declared deceased at the scene while the mother and her 3-year-old daughter were taken to Memorial Regional Health in Craig.

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The mother, 35-year-old Kaylee Messerly, remains hospitalized there. The surviving toddler has been since flown to Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

It’s believed both are suffering from exposure-related injuries.

The three were spotted by aircraft Thursday morning and picked up by searchers driving tread-equipped all-terrain vehicles, the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office reported in a press release Friday night. They were located about a mile from their vehicle that was stuck in mud and snow near the intersection of Moffat County Roads 54 and 103.

MCSO Lt. Chip McIntyre told CBS4 that area is not well-traveled during the winter. The woman and her children were found walking through sagebrush and were not near any road.

“We’ve got to investigate the circumstances,” McIntyre said, “why she was where she was.”

(credit: Moffat County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)

McIntyre said an oil field worker stumbled upon the empty vehicle Thursday and called authorities at 8 a.m.

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“If the oil field worker had not gone down that road to check out equipment, who knows when we would have found the car,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre said Messerly could face criminal charges if her actions that led to the incident are found negligent rather than accidental.

“There are allegations of drug abuse,” McIntyre confirmed.

A search of online criminal records indicates Messerly spent time in community corrections for a 2014 drug possession. She was also jailed in 2015 for assault.

More importantly, Messerly apparently appeared in Moffat County court this week in a felony case. She pleaded not guilty to Attempting to Influence A Public Servant and Criminal Impersonation, plus a misdemeanor traffic charge, on Monday.

Authorities right now believe Messerly’s trip into the backcountry north of Craig began the following day.

 

 

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Logan Smith