FRESNO, Calif. — A missing California woman who was found alive Friday in a cattle ranching area after vanishing more than two weeks ago survived by eating a few bugs and drinking from a dirty cattle trough, authorities said. She told rescuers that she did not want to be found.

The former public elementary school teacher, Jamie Tull, was struggling with emotional issues and was last heard from on July 17 when she called her husband while she was driving and crashed into a ditch, authorities said.

Searchers found her emaciated, badly sunburned and lying in tall grass less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the crash site near the tiny central California farming community of Le Grand, said Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. Tull was weak but able to speak.

Warnke said she told searchers after they found her: “Give me food and water and let me go.”

Warnke described the surrounding landscape as desolate grazing land with homes visible in the distance.

Authorities were piecing together Tull’s movements while she was missing, but said it appeared she remained in the area with no shelter except for a water tank that provided her with shade.

“She hunkered down. She didn’t want to be found,” Warnke said.

Tull, 33, endured a scorching heatwave and told rescuers that she ate two grasshoppers and a fly and drank water from the cattle trough, Warnke said. He said she had stopped taking prescription medicine to help her with emotional issues.

She was taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital for medical treatment and will be returned to relatives for care, Warnke said.

Telephone messages left with Tull’s husband and mother seeking comment were not immediately returned.

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SCOTT SMITH
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