Remains believed by investigators to be that of missing San Andreas woman Helen Coultrup have been located, according to the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office.
The body was found approximately 1/3 of mile away from the missing grandmother's car, the day after authorities identified the vehicle "stuck" on a dirt logging road near Wilseyville, off of Blue Mountain Road and Mitchell Mill Road, about five miles away from pavement, according to Sgt. Greg Stark with the Sheriff's Office.
Coultrup's 2010 Toyota Yaris was recognized from flyers by citizens recreating in the area on all-terrain-vehicles. Its tires were flat, possibly indicating an attempt to free the vehicle, Stark said.
Following the identification of Coultrup's car, authorities initiated an intensified search of the area involving Calaveras, Tuolumne and Amador Counties’ search and rescue teams, the California Highway Patrol Air Unit and the California Rescue Dog Association.
A release issued by the Sheriff’s Office stated that items such as clothing were used to tentatively identify the body, as there was evidence of “heavy animal activity” involving the remains.
The cause and manner of death is currently unknown, and the remains and other evidence of animal activity will be sent to the Calaveras County Coroner’s Office and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for further examination, according to the release.
If positively identified, the discovery of the body will conclude an almost two-week-long search for 87-year-old Coultrup, who was last seen alive on Aug. 3, leaving the Mar-Val parking lot in Valley Springs. Family members have referred to Coultrup as an avid driver who would often travel to higher elevations.
With the support of family, friends and the community, Coultrup’s granddaughter Molly Coldani, who also lives in San Andreas, organized multiple search parties and a Facebook group called “Helpers for Helen” that garnered over 600 members.
"We found her," Coldani told the Enterprise on Aug. 16. "Thank you to everyone (for your) support."
Coldani and Calaveras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio also appeared on FOX40 and other large-scale media outlets to spread the word regionwide.
“The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office wishes to send our condolences out to the family of Helen Coultrup. We would also like to thank everyone who aided and assisted in the search,” the Sheriff’s Office stated.
This article was updated to include a comment from Coldani on Friday, Aug. 16 at 3:58 p.m.