SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.- One day after 59-year-old Suzanne Smith was reported missing on September 10th, California Highway Patrol found her pick-up truck crashed into a fence near the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in Cambria, but no sign of Smith anywhere.
"She has suffered from depression in the past and in the events leading up to when she got into a car accident she had gone off of her medicine," says Amy Gardiner, Smith's niece.
Before the crash, Smith was facing four felony charges for burglary and one felony for grand theft from an elder person but when Smith's family didn't hear from her, they became worried.
"She just seemed that she needed some time to think and we understood. We were concerned and so we gave her what we thought was enough time to do that and we stuck to our plan, but if we didn't hear from her then we would call," says Barbara Quiroga, Smith's niece.
"There was some mistakes, some miscommunication on our part related to that we did not actually start a search until September 14th," says Undersheriff Tim Olivas, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.
Search and rescue teams continued to look for Smith, but it wasn't until September 16th a man found her in a barn.
"So I don't understand why people who are trained to do this couldn't do the same," says Gardiner.
Sheriff's deputies say it's hard to find somebody when they're trying not to be found.
"She actually made statements that she had been trying to conceal her location. She had actually been trying to hide she had heard people on the ranch days previous and had actually hid herself under blankets and tarps in an effort not to be found," says Olivas.
Smith's family says Suzanne is resting, but it may be a while before she fully recovers.
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