Cellphone Tracking Feature Saves Elderly Woman Trapped After Car Accident

| by Reve Fisher
Emily Apple's Overturned Car.Emily Apple's Overturned Car.

After an elderly woman went missing while driving on the interstate, a cellphone feature used during the five-hour manhunt may have saved her life.

Emily Apple, a 76-year-old grandmother, was driving behind her sister on an expressway in Virginia when she mysteriously went missing.

"I got up and I went looking for my mom," Rodney Apple, Emily's son, told CBS 6 News. "My mom didn't have her cellphone with her, she didn't have her oxygen with her, things she needs.”

A manhunt involving Hanover, Henrico, and Virginia State Police was soon underway, but as it was completely dark outside, the search continued for hours.

Around midnight, officials realized that an important piece of technology could be used to track Emily's car: a cellphone. While Emily did not have her cellphone with her, her sister had left her cellphone in the missing vehicle. Police were able to ping her's sister device to find Emily.

The tracking feature led to the car's near-exact location, flipped over near a swampy area off Interstate 295.

“The car was on its side, in daylight you would have seen it clearly, but it was so dark you couldn’t see anything,” Rodney told CBS 6 News.

Although the car had rolled over onto its side, Emily reportedly suffered only minor injuries. She was taken to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center for further treatments and tests after the ordeal.

“She was smiling from ear to ear because she knew it was a miracle,” Caroline Apple, Emily’s granddaughter, told CBS 6 News.

Fox News reports that network cell towers, Wi-Fi and GPS technology all can play a role in locating a missing person via a cellphone. Networks can detect how far each user is from a cell tower, so data from several nearby towers can be used to approximate someone's location.

GPS technology can be useful when combined with cellphone triangulation in areas where cell towers and satellites may have difficulties determining an exact location. Wi-Fi access points can assist in detecting grid references to pinpoint someone's whereabouts. 

Caroline told CBS she believes it's important to have a cellphone close at hand.

"It's very good when it comes to tracking because you don't know when someone you love is missing," she said.

Sources: CBS 6 News, LiftBump, Mad World News, Fox News / Photo credit: CBS 6 via Mad World News