Friday 18 August 2017

Student stranded for 5 days in Arizona desert made farewell videos

Amber VanHecke's vehicle near the Grand Canyon in Arizona (Arizona Department of Public Safety via AP)
Amber VanHecke's vehicle near the Grand Canyon in Arizona (Arizona Department of Public Safety via AP)

A Texas college student stranded for five days near the Grand Canyon has said she began making farewell videos for her family as she grew desperate for help.

Arizona authorities said 24-year-old Amber VanHecke was well-equipped and did everything right after getting lost in a remote area during a solo road trip.

Ms VanHecke said in a Facebook post that she was heading to a hiking trail but was led astray by her maps app and wound up in the middle of nowhere with an empty petrol tank.

She told ABC's Good Morning America that she even tried to chase down a truck, to no avail.

"I was panicking and crying and sobbing. I was a mess," she said.

Ms VanHecke said nobody had reported her missing because of a miscommunication with her family.

She did not have mobile phone access so she made large help signs and even tried to start a signal fire, but did not succeed.

She eventually hiked for miles to a spot where she had a signal, although the call dropped before Arizona authorities could trace her location.

But rescuers had an idea about where she might be, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said, and were able to spot Ms VanHecke's abandoned car using a search helicopter.

Ms VanHecke had left signs on the car saying where she was heading in search of a mobile phone signal and rescuers eventually found her.

She was treated at a Flagstaff hospital for exposure but is now back in Texas, where she is a student at the University of North Texas.

"Five days ago I thought I was going to die in the desert and now I'm trying to go to class," she said.

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