Phoenix woman snowbound for 9 days in remote Coconino County

2011-12-22T09:20:00Z Phoenix woman snowbound for 9 days in remote Coconino CountyERIC BETZ Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
December 22, 2011 9:20 am  • 

A Phoenix woman was rescued in good condition on Wednesday after apparently being stranded for more than a week in her snowbound vehicle in a remote part of southeastern Coconino County.

Lauren E. Weinberg, a 23-year-old ASU business student, told Sheriff's deputies she survived in her car for nine days without cold weather gear and on nothing more than two candy bars. For drinking water, she used the sun to melt snow in bottles.

"I am so thankful to be alive and warm," Weinberg said through a spokeswoman at the Flagstaff Medical Center where she was taken. "Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers, because they worked. There were times I was afraid but mostly I had faith I would be found."

She was released from the hospital Thursday morning.

The part of the eastern Mogollon Rim where she was stranded received up to 33 inches of snow during the first days of her ordeal, according to the National Weather Service.

Weinberg was last seen leaving her mother's home in Ahwatukee on Dec. 11. She was reported missing several days later by the Phoenix Police Department.

Police said she had left her pet behind and missed her final semester exams, which was uncharacteristic, according to her family.

Police were able to track her movements through Chandler, Superior and Show Low on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 in Holbrook, but they lost her trail after that.

Two U.S. Forest Service employees on snowmobiles came across her car north of Woods Canyon Lake just before noon yesterday, according to the Coconino County Sheriff's Office. The two were out checking that gates closing off Forest Service Roads were locked.

She was "cold, hungry and thirsty, but absolutely ecstatic that somebody found her," said Sheriff's Office spokesperson Gerry Blair. Weinberg was taken to the Flagstaff Medical Center to be treated.

Weinberg told Sheriff's deputies that she was driving with no specific destination. She had driven south from Winslow on Highway 99 toward the Mogollon Rim and continued on when she came to a dirt road, Forest Service Road 34, until that stopped at a locked gate at the junction of Forest Service Road 100. She said she was unable to get her Toyota sedan moving again after she stopped at the gate.

Blair said that the woman's cell phone battery was dead so she was unable to make phone calls.

The Assciated Press contributed to this story. Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. FredsStance
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    FredsStance - December 29, 2011 9:04 am
    ...and don't assume something nefarious. Tons of people do just what she states she was doing. That's part of why we live here.
  2. FredsStance
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    FredsStance - December 29, 2011 9:01 am
    No one (that I read) said the car was out of gas. Just stuck. She could have easily run the car for a few minutes every so often to warm up. Maybe she even had heated seats. She could run those for periods of time and then just run the car for a bit to charge the battery.
    I'm glad she made it. It just irks me a little. This is why our forests get gated and locked every winter, and people that are prepared and equipped cannot enjoy them.
  3. taobill
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    taobill - December 28, 2011 11:17 pm
    A person can live 2 weeks without food and about 3 days without water. The average candy bar has about 250 calories. It takes about 10 quarts of snow to make 1 quart of water and you need at least a quart of water per day. That’s 10 quarts of snow per day. Night temps were around zero. So, the real question isn’t how she was able to eat or drink enough to survive, but how she was able to survive for 12-14 hours a day without winter clothing at 0 degrees. Very fishy indeed!
  4. Ovid213
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    Ovid213 - December 27, 2011 1:29 pm
    I for one am impressed. NINE DAYS! Yes, she should have been more careful in the first place, etc etc. But wow! I'm really surprised that someone with evidently no real wilderness training managed to stay alive. You've been given a gift, young lady- cherish it to the fullest! Kudos for not dying.
  5. yankeewhaler
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    yankeewhaler - December 23, 2011 5:28 pm
    Sounds like a love interest getaway.
  6. Chris Lincoln
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    Chris Lincoln - December 23, 2011 8:56 am
    Sure seems like every lost person in the Northland comes from the valley. What is in the water down there?
  7. Bob
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    Bob - December 23, 2011 8:25 am
    @Alanor. Actually, I do remember beilng 23, although that was a long, long, long, (you get the point) time ago. At age 23 I was a graduate student at NAU and working a full time job. Did I have my road trips? I sure did. Did I do some dumb things? I am pretty sure. Heck, I left the house without bottled water, sun screen and a cell phobne. Probably because you couldn't get bottled water and cell phones were not around. I still think there is more to this. No Matter, Happy Holidays.
  8. SuznAZ
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    SuznAZ - December 22, 2011 10:08 pm
    Yup. Wandering in Arizona, when a storm's on the way, no destination, winter clothes or supplies....seems more than a tad off. We're used to the lost hiker not anticipating they'd need more than a pint water bottle for a day hike on the peaks but this seems like she was dumb enough to get into this mess then got smart enough to survive in good shape...on 2 candy bars for 12 days? Time will tell.
  9. AlanOr
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    AlanOr - December 22, 2011 8:40 pm
    Bob and Old Duffer, guess you guys don't remember being 23. Shoot, one time just before finals I got a little frustrated, jumped in the car and didn't stop till Mississippi.
  10. old duffer
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    old duffer - December 22, 2011 3:31 pm
    I would have to agree with Bob.. there has just got to be more to this story.! This girl's travel is very suspicious. What was she doing up in this area in the first place? Secondly, to drive on back roads and then drive alone onto a dirt forest road in the middle of winter is NOT something a rational person would do unless there was some ulterior motive. Since she left her pet and charger behind...a planned event perhaps??? Why????
  11. Bob
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    Bob - December 22, 2011 1:03 pm
    First of all, I am thankful she is okay. Secondly, maybe my suspicious nature, but something just isn't right here. If I follow this correctly, she leaves her valley home, drives over 250 miles, stays somewhere between Show Low and Holbrook for the night of the 11th and then is found over a week later. No cell phone charger, no food, no warm clothing, just driving around with no particular destination and winds up alone on a snowy dirt road in the middle of nowhere. The rest of the story?????
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