FARMINGTON — Her car's GPS was wrong, and she was without insulin or food and entering diabetic shock. She had driven 30 miles north of U.S. Highway 64 and was lost, scared and stuck near an oil well on a peninsula jutting into Navajo Lake.
As the sun set one night in mid-March, Herman "Punch" Buck drove his oil-field truck down the network of dirt roads. He knows the roads well — for five years he has monitored the area's 500 oil wells most nights — but reaching her still took a half hour.
"She was freaking out when I got there," Buck said.
The woman had been driving to Albuquerque before her GPS rerouted her. Thanks to the efforts of a pair of residents, she was eventually saved.
On Tuesday, at the Devon Energy Farmington Facility — which is located near Navajo Dam — San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen and other deputies celebrated the efforts that may have saved the woman.
Attempts on Friday to identify the woman were unsuccessful.
Sheriff's Office Detective Mike Sindelar said deputies were at least an hour and a half away from the woman, and locating her would have taken even longer.
Soon after Sindelar got the call from police dispatchers, he contacted Buck and Jake Nossaman. Both are Devon Energy employees.
"They are there 24/7. They have to be," Sindelar said. "They know the area better than anyone else."
The GPS in the woman's car indicated she had parked on Nossaman's side of the lake, Middle Mesa, so Sindelar directed the Devon employee there.
But the GPS was faulty, and after Nossaman arrived and could not find the woman, he determined she was lost on Buck's side, Sims Mesa.
Nossaman coordinated the logistics, and Buck recovered the woman, Sindelar said.
Buck fed the woman an apple, trail mix and beans when he found her car, and a helicopter's spotlight soon found them.
Buck and Nossaman received plaques from the sheriff's office for their efforts.
"It's nothing that I did. I would have done it for anybody," Buck said after the celebration, sitting back in his computer chair.
He gestured with a hand to the wood-framed certificate signed by Christesen, and he said, "It's just a little too much."