Arizona Student Survives Trapped in a Blizzard for 10 Days

A woman is recovering after spending 10 days trapped in freezing temperatures.

ByABC News
December 22, 2011, 3:53 AM

Dec. 22, 2011— -- After 10 days trapped alone in her Toyota Corolla in freezing temperatures deep in a secluded mountain range, an Arizona woman is recovering at a Flagstaff Medical Center after being rescued from her ordeal.

Lauren Weinberg, an Arizona State University student, survived on two candy bars and melted snow for water after her car became stuck in snow outside a forest gate near a line of cliffs with no one around for miles. The 23-year-old sat in the car without a heavy coat or blanket for nearly a week and a half as another snow storm dumped more than two feet of snow around her.

"She did not have a lot in the way of provisions, she did not have a lot in the way of warm clothing," police told ABC News. "She had a cell phone with her. She told us that she couldn't use it because the battery was dead, and then I guess at some point because of the cold it became completely disabled."

Weinberg had last been seen leaving her mother's house in Phoenix on the night of Dec. 11. She drove four hours toward Arizona's Mogollon Rim when a gate blocked her from traveling any farther. It was when she attempted to turn her car around that she became stuck.

Park rangers found her on Wednesday about 45 miles southeast of Winslow, according to Coconino County sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair.

"They took her out on a snowmobile. She was taken to a waiting deputy to a point where you could get a four-wheel drive vehicle and then she was transported from there, Blair said.

Weinberg, an undergraduate student who is studying supply chain management, released a statement today thanking her rescuers.

"I am so thankful to be alive and warm," she said. "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 said that she jammed snow into a water bottle and placed the bottle on her sedan to have drinking water.

"It's pretty harrowing that she'd been there since the 12th in an area that's totally foreign to her," Blair said to The AP. "We're certainly very happy that we found her, and we found her alive."

While Weinberg was lucky to survive her ordeal, other tales of stranded travelers do not have such happy endings.

Earlier this year, a 56-year-old Canadian woman was rescued after being stranded for almost two months on a desolate logging road in Nevada. Her husband, who left her to go search for help, is still missing.

In 2006 Kati Kim and her two young daughters were miraculously rescued after becoming stranded for nine days in the remote Oregon wilderness. Her husband James, who walked for 16 miles in treacherous conditions to search for help, was found dead a week later from hypothermia.

In Weinberg's case, staying put is what saved her life.

"When people are stranded like that, if they leave their vehicle and try to walk out, the mortality rate goes up. The survival rate is much higher when people stay with their vehicle we are thankful that she was with her vehicle when we found her," Blair said.