(Reuters) - A 53-year-old woman survived six days in the Arizona desert on grass and water after crashing her car, before being rescued by a rancher and highway workers who were chasing a cow, police and local media said on Wednesday.
The woman, whose name was not disclosed, lost control of her car on Oct. 12 on a rain-slicked road near Wickenburg, Arizona, about 65 miles (105 km) north of Phoenix, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The car plunged about 50 feet (15 m) down a ravine, “landing in a mesquite tree, where it remained suspended above the ground,” DPS reported.
Seriously injured from the crash, the woman remained in the car for several days before climbing out and trying to walk to a nearby railway line for help, the DPS reported.
She made it 500 yards (457 m) before collapsing in a dry river bed.
On Oct. 18, rancher Dave Moralez, 30, and a road maintenance crew were working to corral a cow on U.S. Highway 60 when they noticed a break in the fence near the road.
They saw the mangled car below, and when they climbed down, found footprints leading from the vehicle.
They followed the tracks and discovered the severely dehydrated woman, her eyes swollen, wearing a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops, suffering from broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a head injury, Moralez told a local NBC affiliate.
“I don’t know if she could have made it there another night,” Moralez said.
Rescuers called for a helicopter and the woman was airlifted to a hospital.
DPS Director Frank Milstead praised the highway workers and the rancher.
“Due to their outstanding efforts, this woman’s life was saved,” he said in a statement.
Reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Peter Cooney