KB Hear

The Story: 72-year-old Ann Rodgers of Tucson, Arizona was reported missing on March 31, 2016 by her family. After taking a few wrong turns on a remote dirt road in eastern Arizona, she ran out of fuel. To worsen the situation, she was out of range on her cellphone. Rodgers made the right move on night-one of her situation, staying with her car. She had extra clothing for warmth, and some snacks and water for sustenance. On the second day however, she made a decision which has killed many people over the past century – she left the vehicle to look for help. Had she stayed with the vehicle (as you should do), her ordeal would have been shortened by several days, since local police found the abandoned car on April 3. But aside from this major blunder, Rodgers showed remarkable skill and tenacity. Each night, she built a fire for warmth. She drank “pond water” for hydration. She even found edible plants along the way and a turtle which she roasted and ate for nourishment. Each of these skills, she claimed to have learned from a survival class and her continued research on the topic of desert survival. Rodgers told the authorities that she was angry with them at one point, since help hadn’t come. “I was frustrated, but I knew there were people who cared enough to make sure somebody found me…” But it wasn’t because local authorities weren’t trying. The local sheriff’s department and the Department of Public Safety were looking for her, with man trackers, scent dogs and aircraft. But again, Rodgers’ know-how came into play. She had made a large “help” sign from sticks and rocks, which a DPS pilot spotted on the ninth day of her predicament. Rescue helicopter pilot Lowell Neshem was quoted saying “I was completely shocked. Up to that point I thought we were looking for a body. I didn’t expect to find her alive.” After the helicopter set down and picked her up, Rodgers was flown to a local hospital and soon released.

The Takeaway: This story is chock full of teachable moments. Never leave the car. Bring supplies in your vehicle. Signaling for help can save your life. And finally, get some training! Rodgers credits a survival course for her amazing skill set, and she was clearly paying attention in class!

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