A 35-year-old Essex woman was found alive yesterday in the wreckage of a pickup truck, where she had been trapped alongside a dead companion, apparently since the truck crashed four days earlier.
Investigators were not certain when the accident occurred, but noted that the body of the male companion was decomposing.
Robert Diegel of Rosedale said his family was told that his sister, Melissa Elizabeth Maier of the 6700 block of Golden Ring Road, suffereda broken back, ankle and shoulder, had lost half her blood and had a cut on her eye.
She had been reported missing Monday morning after leaving her two children with her mother Friday and vanishing, police said.
"She is under heavy sedation" and undergoing facial surgery at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Mr. Diegel said. She was listed in critical condition last night. "We're waiting to speak to her."
"The nurse told [us] when we got up there, 'Don't be surprised, you might not recognize her.' " He added: "She's bad off. It's very serious. It's critical. She's not out of the woods yet. The doctor said it is going to get worse before it gets better."
The dead man is believed to have been the driver. He was identified as Charles Eugene Frazier, 30, of the 8200 block of Pulaski Highway.
Police said it appeared that the 1979 Ford pickup had been eastbound at high speed on Raphael Road when it shot past a stop sign at Philadelphia Road, ran over an embankment and crashed nose-down and out of sight in a field owned by the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.
No skid marks were seen to indicate an attempt at braking. The truck left tracks on the muddy embankment, but "not something you would actually notice unless you were looking for something," said E. Jay Miller, county police spokesman.
A worker mowing grass on the BGE property found the wrecked vehicle about noon and walked to the nearby Huber Farm produce stand to call police.
Stephen Huber, 18-year-old son of the owner of the stand, along with a friend and the BG&E; worker, walked toward the truck. They noticed a head moving inside the truck.
"That's the first thing I noticed in the cab, because she was moving. She couldn't move much. Mostly just her head," he said.
"We just ran down there and started talking to her, tried to calm her down, tell her that help was on the way. We asked her if she was OK, and she said 'yes.' "
He said Ms. Maier was sitting on the passenger side floor, with her back against the seat, her legs cramped under her. The man was lying on the bench seat, with his feet on the driver's side and his head on the passenger side, next to her.
"We asked if the guy was alive," Mr. Huber said. "We didn't think he was . . . but she said 'yes.' "
When they looked more closely, they could see the man was dead, "but we didn't tell her any different just to keep her calm," he said.
"She said she wanted water. . . . That was the first thing she said without us questioning her," he said.
"We asked her how she felt, and she said all right. We asked her how her legs were, and she said numb. But she was never crying or screaming or anything. She was pretty calm . . . she didn't seem real panicky. I think she was too dehydrated or exhausted to be panicky."
Ms. Maier was flown by a state police MedEvac helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Mr. Huber said after emergency help had arrived, "I told them I saw the tracks a couple of days ago. So they asked her how long she'd been there, and she said two nights."
Police said it was possible the accident had occurred early Saturday.
Ms. Maier's mother, Marveen Diegel, reported to police Monday that the children -- Sarah, 14, and Jushua, 11 -- had been dropped off about 4:45 p.m. Friday and that Ms. Maier did not say much about where she would be going.
Mr. Diegel said his parents normally watch Ms. Maier's children in the afternoon until she returns from work and takes them home. "She didn't go and pick them up on Friday," he said, adding that the children have been staying with relatives since their mother disappeared.
Ms. Maier worked in the deli department of the Rosedale Super Fresh supermarket in the 6200 of Kenwood Ave. Val Miotla, the bookkeeper there, said she had worked there part time for 14 months. The bookkeeper said she called Ms. Maier's family about 4 p.m. Saturday, after she did not arrive for her 3 p.m. shift. She said Ms. Maier's brother went to the supermarket Sunday to say that the family was intending to file a missing person report that night. When police began investigating Monday, they found Ms. Maier's car at the trailer park where Mr. Frazier lived, but that he was not home.
He lived at the park for about a year, said Eppie Harrison, who lived next to him. She said he repaired refrigerators at a nearby shop.