AMERICAN FALLS – It’s a miracle just before the holidays after a small dog went missing in a car crash, then was found nine days later and reunited with his family.
Maya, a one-year-old Maltese-Yorker mix who weighs less than five pounds, went missing after a single-vehicle accident in the early morning hours of December 5. Its owners were sent to the hospital.
Keysha Turner says her mother and stepfather were visiting family in Twin Falls this weekend when they left early Monday to return home to Rexburg.
The Ford van was driven by Turner’s mother, Ivette Turner, while Ivette’s husband was the passenger. They were driving east on Interstate 86 near Massacre Rocks.
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“She had her seat belt on and they hit black ice. They had cruise control on so she couldn’t grab the car when it started to spin out of control, and then they rolled over four times,’ Keysha Turner said.
When paramedics arrived, they paid attention to Turner’s parents. No one knew at the time that Maya was missing. Turner said paramedics had to cut off part of the vehicle to get her mother out, then they airlifted her to Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello.
According to the Power County Sheriff’s Office, Turner’s stepfather was taken by ambulance to the same hospital.
Turner said she currently lives in Oregon and received a call that her mother and stepfather were in the hospital, so she came as quickly as possible. Her mother began asking Turner about Maya on her first night in the hospital.
“One of her first words was asking where Maya was and asking if she was okay. Every day after that she would ask for her,” Turner said.
When she learned that Maya was involved in the car accident, Turner said she was upset for the little dog.
“When we went to the junkyard to see the truck and see how messy the truck was, I got a little scared. We thought if she’s dead, she’s probably somewhere in the truck. But we didn’t find anything, and I thought she couldn’t be dead,” Turner said. “If we can’t find her anywhere, she’s still out there, just thriving!”
Turner did everything to find her. She posted flyers around the area where she disappeared so people could keep an eye out for Maya.
Judi Fehringer, an animal control officer with the US Falls Police Department, told EastIdahoNews.com that she searched for Maya every day for nine days.
She set a trap near the crash site to see if Maya would come there. She explained that the living trap is like a small cage with a blanket on it. There is food inside and there is a bar that can close the door once the pet touches it. It does not hurt the animal.
“We thought she was probably moving,” Fehringer said. “I started asking everyone to look at other areas because we have nearby farms along the highway on both sides.”
Fehringer knew Maya was alive because she saw tracks in the snow. It was just a matter of finding where she had been. Some of the challenges Fehringer faced were when the snow blew over the Maya tracks and when the sun came out for a day and melted the tracks. Yet she kept trying.
She said people in the community called with observations and also wanted to help.
Finally, Fehringer said she spotted what looked like Maya on Monday, Dec. 12, near an exit, but the little dog was gone when she tried to reach it.
“On Wednesday we got a call from dispatch that a young child was pretty sure he had seen her. So I went over there. I had a deputy there,” he said. she said, “I called Keysha. We waited for her at the boy’s.”
Sure enough, at exit 33, near the Neeley area on Interstate 86, heading east toward Pocatello, Maya was found near a house where she was sheltering. He was three miles from the crash site.
Turner arrived and tried to call Maya. She says her mom is Mexican and calls Maya “Mayita” so she started saying her name in Spanish.
“As soon as I turned the corner, her little head was sticking out, and I leaned over, and she came straight at me,” Turner said. “I was super excited! It’s a relief. Judi was really persistent. I’m so grateful to her. She was there every day.
Fehringer said the reunion was happy and she is happy that Maya is safe and now home with her owners.
“The guy who lived there, the neighbors say he feeds cats. I’m pretty sure she lived on cat food,” Fehringer said. “She’s the smallest thing, and you know a lot of dogs when they get into that, they go into survival mode for a while and she did it. It’s just amazing.
Fehringer explained that there are also dangers, such as coyotes, owls and hawks. Maya understood this and kept herself alive.
The Power County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook, “Thank you to everyone who called for the sightings, Deputy Hoag and American Falls Police Department Animal Control Officer Fehringer. Definitely a miracle!”
Turner said the day Maya was found was when her mother was released from the hospital. She said she was grateful for the reunion between her mother and Maya.
“It was beautiful. My mom started crying,” Turner said.