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72-Year-Old Woman Says Survival Training Helped Her Survive 9 Days in the Desert

It’s hard to imagine the story of a 72-year-old stranded in the desert for 9 days would end in anything other than tragedy, but Ann Rodgers doesn’t let odds define her.

Rodgers ended up stranded  in Arizona on March 31, after making a few wrong turns on her way to see her grandkids. Without cell phone service and a car out of both fuel and electric power, she had nowhere to turn. She stayed with her car the first night, which is the recommended option. Unfortunately, after no one had arrived by the next day, she left her car in search of help.

She walked back toward the direction she had been where she had seen a ranch during her trip. Sher kept looking for people but never saw any sign of anyone else.

In order to survive, Rodgers ate plants she came across and drank pond water. She credits a survival course for giving her the skills to make it through her ordeal.

Unfortunately for Rodgers, she didn’t follow the most important for getting lost – always stay with your car. If she had, she wouldn’t have been out in the wilderness for so long.

“Clearly she did whatever she had to do to stay alive. But she didn’t need to do what she did. This ordeal didn’t need to last for nine days,” said Cory Lundin, an Arizona survival instructor.

White Mountain Apache Forest rangers discovered her car on April 3 and called the Gila County Sheriff’s Office when after they ran the plate.

“We couldn’t find anything of where this lady was,”said Detective Johnny Holmes.

Rodgers was frustrated after several days of not being found, so she made “help” sign out of rocks and sticks. The Department of Public Safety flew over the area and discovered the sign.

“I was completely shocked. Up to that point I thought we were looking for a body,” rescue helicopter pilot Lowell Neshem said. “For me it was like a Hail Mary pass touchdown. I didn’t expect to find her alive.”

Rodgers was discovered in great condition, considering what she had gone through. After only a few hours in the hospital, she was able to go home.

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