Thanks to a “help” sign and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a 24-year-old woman is getting treatment after being stranded on the Havasupai Reservation in Coconino County for five days, KGUN9 sister station KNXV reports.
According to DPS, Amber VanHecke of Texas ran out of gas near the south rim of the Grand Canyon last Friday. The woman called 911 but before she was able to provide an exact location, the call was dropped.
Despite having little information about the victim’s whereabouts, authorities determined she was likely near Indian Route 18 and Anita Road.
The Air Rescue unit began searching the area and saw a glare which was later determined to be the woman’s car; located near the car was a large makeshift sign spelling out the word “help,” officials said.
Rescue crews began immediately searching the area after discovering that the woman had abandoned her car. However, a note inside it explained that she was walking along the road in hopes of finding cell phone service, DPS said.
VanHecke was spotted shortly after “frantically waiving [sic] to get their attention,” according to a DPS press release. When she was found she was without any food and had very little water left.
DPS trooper Edgar Bissonette described the moment they found the woman.
"I said 'Hi, you called?' and she gave me a really big bear hug," he said.
Despite five days of being stuck in the wilderness alone, VanHecke was OK. Bissonette said she rationed her food and water and was overall in good shape — despite the circumstances.
"Initially when I asked her, 'Do you want to go to the hospital?' She said 'No, not very,' and I said 'You think you need to go to the hospital?' and she said 'Yeah, I probably should,'" Bissonette said.
The woman was treated for exposure at the scene and then transported to a trauma center in Flagstaff.