A 72-year-old woman and her dog were rescued on Saturday after spending nine days lost in the Arizona wilderness.
After Ann Rodgers ran out of gas and power in her hybrid car on her way to visit her grandchildren in Phoenix, she — along with her dog — set out on foot to find cellphone service and call for help.
But after climbing several ridge lines, Rodgers and her dog were irreconcilably lost.
“The probabilities of finding her alive were really low,” Johnny Holmes, Gila County sheriff’s detective, told the Guardian. “It’s a miracle on its own that she’s still here given she was out there that many days.”
“It’s a miracle on its own that she’s still here given she was out there that many days.”
She and her dog survived nine days by drinking what pond water and small plants they could find.
The search began on April 3, after authorities discovered Rodgers’s car by the side of the road.
On that same day, Rodgers, lost somewhere in White River Indian Reservation, spelled out “HELP” on the canyon floor is rocks and sticks. Beneath a rock, she stuck a handwritten note, saying that she was out of food and water and was heading further down the canyon.
The search went on for nearly a week — until April 9 when a park officer found Rodgers’s dog walking around.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety was called in to assist with the search. While flying over the park, they found the “HELP” message and, once they were on the ground, the handwritten message.
The search party followed Rodgers’ directions and proceeded further down the canyon where they found an abandoned shelter.
Just before 6 p.m., as the search party rounded a bend in the canyon, they found Rodgers, standing next to a signal fire and waving desperately at the helicopter.
When she was discovered, Rodgers was suffering from exposure but in “fair condition,” according to officials.
She was take by helicopter to a nearby hospital for treatment and released later that day.
“She’s an amazing person just from what I know from me dealing with the search on this end of it,” Holmes said. “I’d love to shake her hand one day.”
While it sounds like a tactic straight from the movies, writing out HELP on the ground has saved several lives recently. A few days earlier, three castaways were rescued from a small desert island in the Pacific when they also wrote out “HELP” in palm leaves.
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