02 February 2010
CRYSTAL — An 88-year-old woman was found dead
near the Crystal Chapter on the Navajo Nation last Wednesday,
The woman, whose name was not released, was
found in the middle of the road about seven miles north of
"Out of respect for the family, we're not
releasing the name," said Selena Manychildren, spokeswoman for the
Navajo Nation Emergency Operation Center.
The Chinle Police District of the Navajo Nation
Division of Public Safety reports that the woman insisted on
visiting her sister at 4 a.m., and when her vehicle got stuck in
the mud, she continued on foot. A road-grader operator discovered
the woman's body about 25 yards from her vehicle.
The death is the third on the reservation
during the past weeks believed to be weather related, Manychildren
The Chinle Police District also is checking on
an individual believed to be stranded at a sheep camp northeast of
the Pinon Chapter.
Efforts in search-and-rescue operations are
hampered by road conditions in remote areas, Deputy Incident
Commander David Nez said in a prepared statement. Main roads are
graded and kept open for school buses and emergency response.
"The Emergency Operation Center focus is on
reports of large groups of people isolated by the weather
conditions," he said. No additional missing people reports are
Meanwhile, emergency responders are slowing
down their deliveries to families believed to be stranded by the
heavy snow and accompanying mud, Manychildren said. Crews of
responders last week made rapid deliveries of food, water, fuel
and livestock feed to residents unable to leave home because of
"It's kind of slowing down right now because
emergency responders took care of all the situations in the rural
areas," she said. "Single incidents are being referred to the
chapters for assistance."
Winter weather often presents the Navajo Nation
with two emergencies, Manychildren said. Deep snow and ice
conditions often are followed by soft mud that makes travel
impossible. Officials continue to warn residents of muddy
"It's going to muddy, and it's going to be
messy," Manychildren said. "We're getting flooding in the
low-lying areas. Snow is melting, so it's going to be very muddy."
The Nation did not experience mud emergencies
last year, but the winter of 2008 left the reservation in
"It varies by year," Manychildren said. "You
can never tell what Mother Nature is going to do. You've just got
to try to be prepared."
The Emergency Operation Center is stressing
emergency preparedness for anyone planning to spend time in the
outdoors. Individuals should dress appropriately for winter
weather, travel in pairs and keep in touch with relatives.
It also advises people to carry cell phones,
water, food, matches and flashlights. Vehicles should be equipped
with tire chains and shovels.
"We need to respect the winter condition around
us," Nez said in a prepared statement. "It is a great blessing to
the environment to have all this moisture."