The long rescue of a woman who disappeared in plain sight (11 photos)

12 December 2023

No one can predict how another ordinary day will turn out. And when it ends.

It was an ordinary September evening in 2007. A resident of the town of Maple Valley in Washington, 33-year-old Tanya Ryder was in a hurry home from work. She had little time left to rest and go to her next job: she and her husband dreamed of a house, so they grabbed every opportunity to earn money.

Maple Valley

But the woman never made it home. Her husband Tom was not worried, because due to conflicting schedules and total busyness, they could not see each other for several days. But the 38-year-old man received a call from his wife’s work the next day and was told that Tanya never showed up for her shift at the 24-hour supermarket.

Tanya's phone was silent, forwarding calls to voicemail. The woman was not at home. The car was not there. Tanya didn’t show up for her first job at a shopping center, where she worked as an assistant consultant.

Tom, in a panic, drives around the area along his wife’s route, calling hospitals, morgues and even prisons. Contacts Tanya's relatives and goes to the police.

Tanya and Tom

The police were not particularly willing to accept the statement and were in no hurry to search, telling the man that his wife was an adult woman without addictions, mental illness or other problems. She was not subjected to persecution or threats, and therefore is free to leave without warning wherever and whenever she wants.

Tom was not satisfied with this answer. And he turned to the press with a request to publish a photo of Tanya and her car. Only 5 days after the disappearance did the wheels of the bureaucratic machine slowly turn.

Ryder gave the detective access to the house without a warrant because he was the first to come under suspicion. Tanya’s colleague added fuel to the fire by calling the police and demanding that her husband be checked. The police tried to track the missing woman's phone, but the cellular company refused to provide information without a court order.

While the paperwork dragged on, Tom could not find a place for himself. I hardly slept and stopped eating. On September 24, he was summoned for a polygraph questioning. Finally, things will get off the ground. But after an avalanche of the same type of questions, psychological pressure and icy indifference, he realized that the police simply wanted to force him to confess to a crime in order to close the case.

The same ravine

This went on for another three days. Until, during the next interrogation, when the poor fellow was already on the verge, a policeman entered the interrogation room and said the cherished phrase: “She was found.”

Due to exceptional circumstances, the telephone operator did not wait for permission and agreed to provide information. The last point where Tanya’s phone was recorded was a place within a three-kilometer radius on the very road along which the woman was driving home. The rescue team left for the scene. And I found broken branches and trampled grass near one of the ravines on the side of the road. At the bottom lay the broken car of the missing woman.

Consequences of a terrible accident

Amazingly, Tanya was still alive. As a result of a night accident, the woman lost control and the car was thrown into a ravine. Ryder had a broken leg, several ribs, damaged vertebrae, a dislocated shoulder and cut skin on her forehead. The leg was pinned under the dashboard, the blood in the limb was not circulating well, which threatened to lose it. But everything worked out.

The woman spent 8 days unconscious without food or water. I only remembered the feeling of dull pain when I came out of oblivion, and the endless ringing of the phone. To which she, being pinched by the belts, could not answer. Doctors said that the victim would not have survived that night: exhaustion, dehydration and almost completely failed kidneys were taking their toll.

It took a lot of time to rehabilitate. But as a result, the woman survived. Then she toldShe said that at a certain point in time she realized that she was dying. Thirst and hunger subsided, and hallucinations began. Tanya saw green lawns, flooded with sunlight, and a long-dead dog. It seemed to her that she was able to reach the phone and call the police, but this turned out to be just a vision.

Tanya tearfully thanked her husband for not listening to the police and not giving in under pressure and continuing the search. The most amazing thing is that the search for the car after receiving information about the location of the phone took only 20 minutes. And the week, which practically cost the man his life, was spent overcoming bureaucratic obstacles and fighting the soulless system.

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