Spooked by bear, hiker spends the night in West Hartford woods - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Spooked by bear, hiker spends the night in West Hartford woods

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Alexis Aldrich was located after an extensive search near West Hartford reservoir. (West Hartford Police Department) Alexis Aldrich was located after an extensive search near West Hartford reservoir. (West Hartford Police Department)
WEST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A woman, whose vehicle was found near the reservoir in West Hartford and prompted an extensive search, was located late Wednesday morning. 

The motor vehicle of 23-year-old Alexis Aldrich was located in a parking lot on the south side of Route 44 around 1:30 a.m., police said.  

They said she spent the night in the woods after getting lost.

Her neighbors told Eyewitness News that they were happy she was safe.

"They found her, of course it's a good ending," said Nancy Leclair, a neighbor.

Aldrich's parents called police to report her disappearance. They told police that the woman often walks on the Metropolitan District Commission property near the reservoir. But, her parents that she does not usually walk in the dark.

"They said that their daughter Alexis Aldridge had come up here to go for a walk," said Lt. Ted Stoneburner, West Hartford police. "But she certainly shouldn't be here at 1:30 in the morning."

K9s, all-terrain vehicles and State Police Helicopter Eagle One assisted in the overnight search.

Twelve hours later, she was found in Avon.

"She's a little hungry, a little scared, but she's with her parents and medical personnel is with her and she appears to be fine," Stoneburner said.

Police said a bear spooked her, so she went down the wrong trail. From there, they said the ordeal spiraled into a maze.

Longtime jogger Felix Ungar said the trails in the area can be tricky, especially at night.

"[There's] the tree cover when the sun sets, you won't get much moonlight either," Ungar said. "You can walk off into the woods or the side trails and get lost if you're not used to the area."

Police said Aldrich made two critical mistakes. She came by herself and left her phone at home.

"You have animals, bears," Stoneburner said. "In her case, she got lost in a very dangerous place, at night, by yourself, with no communication."

Police said the search cost thousands of dollars in overtime. They haven't charged Aldrich, but said they're still looking into whether any will be filed.

Her family told Eyewitness News that they're just glad she's home safe.

Aldrich returned to her Avon home around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Police said she appears to be OK, but was evaluated by medical staff as a precaution.  

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