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 firstname.lastname@example.org.