PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. – Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Deputy Cpl. Robert Grubbs was off-duty on Tuesday when he received a call about a search underway for an elderly couple that had been missing since last Thursday.
"(I) put my uniform on, responded to the area, was going to assist with the search," Grubbs said.
As he was leaving the couple's home on Stony Mill School Road after a search of the property didn't turn up any clues, he noticed something unusual across the street.
"(I) looked across the road and I said, 'Looks like a vehicle might have traversed through the weeds,'" Grubbs recalled.
When he went to take a closer look, he saw the sunlight reflecting off the grill of a car.
"At this point, I then heard somebody yell for help and then I traveled down, I guess it was maybe about 50 yards, down in some high brush. That's where the vehicle was," Grubbs said.
The person calling for help was Sandra Stephens.
She had been trapped in the car since last Thursday.
She and her boyfriend were backing out of their driveway when the gas pedal in the car got stuck and the car shot backwards down the ravine.
When the car came to rest, her boyfriend got out and tried to go get help, but Brosville Fire Chief Kevin Farris said he couldn't get up the ravine.
"Due to the briars and the overgrowth of the cutover, he was unable to make it," Farris explained.
He was found dead next to the car.
The car's battery was also found dead.
Farris said Stephens had been honking the car's horn and flashing the headlights, trying to signal for help.
Around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, help finally arrived.
"We assessed her, started treatment, and we packaged her in a stokes basket and actually put a cable to the crash truck and winched her back up the hill," Farris said.
"She looked up and she said, 'Is that a fire truck?' I said, 'Yes, ma'am.' She said, 'Praise God,'" Farris said.
He said he has never had a call like this before, and noted that this just goes to show that first responders have to be prepared for anything.
"We're set up as a fire department, but we also do rescue," Farris said. "We do have a crash truck with capable equipment and we do run ALS, ambulances out of here also. So, we have to be ready for any type of call."
State police are investigating the crash.
The body of Stephens' boyfriend has been sent to the medical examiner's office to determine a cause of death.