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Search intensifies for missing woman

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Mary Finnegan

The search for a missing 82-year-old Delta County woman with dementia is centered in a remote area of the Uncompahgre National Forest.

Mary Finnegan was last seen July 15 at about noon, when she left a bowling alley in Montrose. She was driving a silver 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis.

On Sunday, her car was located several miles down a remote, four-wheel drive trail on the Uncompahgre Plateau. Her niece posted on Facebook, "She was obviously very lost. She drove until her car became high centered on a rock, then in true Aunt Mary fashion, she set out on foot.

"Her vehicle was found with her keys, purse and a large amount of cash still inside (which was the best news possible)."

On Tuesday afternoon, the main search focused on a five- to six-mile radius where her car was found on Sunday. According to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, ATV teams have gone out about 20 miles.

According to a post on the Mesa County Sheriff's Facebook page:

Crews are working to cover as much ground as possible, but also as thoroughly as possible.

The vegetation in the area is very dense and difficult to see through and in some cases see over. Some overgrowth is 3 feet to 12 feet tall, and that doesn't include trees in the area.

Monday about 50 to 60 people searched for more than 10 hours. Similar resources were deployed Tuesday.

Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Mesa County Search and Rescue, Mesa County Sheriff's Posse, Montrose County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and local ranchers familiar with the area are now involved in the search.

Mesa County Search and Rescue has members of its ground team, ATV, tracking, and dog teams also working on the search effort.

"We are taking the search one day at a time. It has been very taxing not only for family members, but for search crews as well," said Sheriff Matt Lewis.

Finnegan's car was found 4-5 miles off Divide Road near the Mesa County and Montrose County line. The car was towed out of the forest and is currently processed by Mesa County Sheriff's investigators.

They are looking for more clues as to how long the car may have been left in the Uncompahgre National Forest and any information as to where Finnegan might be as well as her condition.

Nothing has been found to indicate foul play.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office is asking if anyone camping, hiking or recreating in the area in the last week saw her or something that might be helpful to searchers to call 970-244-3526.

"We are grateful and humbled by the number of people who have shared her pictures, joined the searches, and shown kindness in their words and prayers," Finnegan's niece, Rhonda Kay Phillips, posted. "Since God is the only one who knows where she is, please keep the prayers coming... We know it's a miracle her car was located, and we are hopeful today will bring with it a few more miracles."

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