Tucson Grandmother and Queensland Heeler Rescue Dog Turned to Wilderness Survival Techniques After Running Out of Food and Water.
Ann Charon Rodgers, a 72 year old grandmother from Tucson, Arizona says that surviving 9 days stranded in the wilderness has taught her to appreciate more. Rodgers, who was lost in the White Mountains, has been described by search and rescue teams as an amazing person, and her survival as miraculous.
Rodgers’ frightening experience began on March 31. Accompanied by her Queensland Heeler mix dog, Queenie, and her cat, she was driving to Phoenix to see her grandchildren. Somewhere on a deserted back-road in the White Mountains Apache Reservation, Rodgers’ hybrid vehicle ran out of charge and fuel. Though she had a cell-phone, there was no coverage, so she couldn’t call for assistance.
The grandmother stayed overnight in her car, using supplies that she carried in case of emergencies. She desperately waited to see some sign of life, “even a steer”, but soon realized she would have to look for help herself.
Bravely, Rodgers tried to hike a nearby ridge to get a cell-phone signal, but quickly got lost in the rough terrain. With no food and water left, Rodgers and rescue dog Queenie turned to wilderness survival techniques. After her rescue, Rodgers explained that she had taken survival classes, so she knew to drink pond water and eat desert plants to keep her strength up. Rodgers says that her faithful dog acted like a guide, showing her the safest and easiest paths to take. The Queensland Heeler is a courageous, tireless, robust, compact working dog. Rodgers was lucky to have Queenie at her side during his harrowing ordeal.
Authorities became aware that Rodgers was missing when her car was found on April 3, but early search and rescue efforts found no trace of her. Detective Johnny Holmes, who co-ordinated the teams, said that after 6 days, they were hoping for the best but expecting the worst. With risks including dehydration, hypothermia and the danger of attack by wild animals such as bob-cats, experts knew that the probability of finding the grandmother and her dog alive were low.
On April 9, Rodgers’ luck changed when Queenie wandered up to a White River tribal fish and game officer, near Canyon Creek. Aerial teams flew over the area and spotted the word help, which the resourceful grandmother had spelt out on the sand with elk bones, sticks and rocks. She had also lit a small signal fire in the hope of someone seeing the smoke.
Rodgers says that she was overwhelmed when she realized that she had been found. She waved her bright red bag to attract attention and was moved to tears when the helicopter landed. Despite having spent 9 days in the wilderness, medics found that this inspiring woman was only suffering from mild exposure symptoms.
Rodgers, Queenie, and her cat, who was also located by the rescue teams, are now safe back at home in Tucson. Has this experience put this incredible 72 year old off traveling? According to an interview with NBC News, no! Rodgers is planning on a making a visit to her grandchildren in Phoenix soon.