Grandmother Rescued after 9 Days in Arizona Wilderness

One woman recently learned the hard way how important it is to always be prepared for the worst. Ann Rodgers, 72, and her dog Queenie were rescued after spending nine days in the Arizona wilderness.

On March 31, Rodgers was driving to visit her grandchildren in Phoenix when her car ran out of gas on a remote back country road. Unfortunately, she had no cell phone service.

“I waited until sun up the next morning, hoping a truck or car, anybody, anything, would go by, even a steer! I didn’t care, anything alive,” Rodgers told CBS News. When no one showed up, she realized she had to do something. However, she became lost after climbing several ridge lines in attempt to find cell phone service.

Rodgers and Queenie survived by eating desert plants and drinking water from a pond. To make it through the freezing desert nights, Rodgers created a shelter and built a fire. Eventually, she came across an old elk carcass and used the bones, which had been bleached white by the sun, and some rocks and sticks to spell out the word “HELP!” on a canyon floor.

Rescue teams noticed her distress signal near the area where Queenie had been found a few days earlier and sent a rescue helicopter to her aid. She was discovered near a signal fire as she waved her arms to get the attention of her rescuers.

Thankfully, Rodgers had enough wilderness experience to have the foresight to create a shelter, build a fire and create a visible distress signal. Without these tools, and her access to edible desert plants and water, the situation could have turned out differently.

Because you never know what type of situation may arise, it is smart to keep a survival kit with you. Rodgers wasn’t planning to go on a hike, but she knew she would be driving through remote parts of the desert on her way to Phoenix. She also apparently failed to tell anyone where she was going, so her family didn’t immediately realize that she was missing.

Your survival kit should include:

  • Plenty of water (at least one gallon per person per day)
  • Fire starting tools
  • Shelter
  • First aid kit
  • Signaling tools

If you’re headed on a long drive through remote areas, let someone know where you’re headed. If you find yourself lost in a remote area, stay with your vehicle. Cars are much easier to spot from the air than a person. Most importantly, don’t panic. Do your best to remain calm and make strategic choices to maximize your chance of rescue.