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Woman seen bloodied, yelling in NJ semi-truck found safe after 26-hour search

South Brunswick Township police said the woman and man seen in the truck were a married couple and the woman had hit her head when the vehicle stopped short, causing her to bleed.

The search for a woman who was allegedly seen bleeding from the face and yelling for help in a white tractor-trailer cab in New Jersey has been found safe after a 26-hour manhunt, police announced Thursday evening. 

A search was launched Wednesday afternoon after a witness reported seeing the woman bleeding and the man driving the truck pull her back into the cab around 2 p.m. on Route 130, heading towards the Ridge Road exit, South Brunswick Township police said.

Authorities released footage of the incident, pleading for tips on locating the truck. 

The woman and the man in the incident were tracked down at 5:10 p.m. Thursday, police announced, and said the case was not as sinister as it initially seemed.

The pair was identified as a married couple in their 50s, Deputy Chief Jim Ryan told NBC News.

It turned out the woman was bleeding after hitting her head in the vehicle and in a panic attempted to get out through the window, and her husband sped off in the truck to get help, Ryan said.

Authorities said they received tips from around the country but the break in the case came from Gabrielli Truck Sales, a truck dealership located on Route 130 near where the incident took place, police said.

The business recovered video that allowed detectives to identify the truck and the female inside. 

Authorities searched in Middlesex and Union counties for the white truck and detectives observed a man matching the witness description and leaving the truck in question and approached him.

Detectives also found the woman in the video at the same location.

Both agreed to go to the police headquarters and speak with detectives.

That's when police learned the husband “stopped short” in the vehicle and his wife “fell forward and hit her head,” Ryan said.

“He pulled to the shoulder of the road when he saw she hit her head. She saw blood coming and she immediately panicked because she thought it was very bad so she was yelling for help and wanted to put pressure on it. When he stopped the truck and looked over and saw the bleeding he realized he had to take off to get help," Ryan said.

"He never saw the witness or realized there was anyone who had seen the encounter," Ryan added.

He said the wife's bleeding eventually stopped and the couple ended up going to a local Rite Aid to get a bandage for her.

Ryan said when detectives found the couple they could see visible injury on the woman and she had a bandage on the side of her head. 

Ryan said they also recovered video from inside the truck to confirm the couple’s account.  He called finding the couple like "finding a needle in a haystack." Tip calls came in from Texas, California, and Washington and police received help from the FBI.

"So often our stories are sad and tragic, and this one has a positive outcome because so many people got involved quickly and we found the answers," Ryan said.

Chief Raymond Hayducka praised finding the couple as a "great team effort, from the community providing tips to detectives tracking down leads."

"It was an exhaustive 26 hours, but we were able to locate the woman and make sure she was safe,” Hayducka said.