Snowbound ASU Student Survives 10 Days on Candy, Melted Snow

Lauren Weinberg survived on candy bars, snow


An Arizona State University student missing for 10 days survived on a Snickers candy bar, a bag of M&M's candies and melted snow for drinking water, authorities said Wednesday after the 23-year-old was found in a desolate area of east Arizona.

Lauren Elizabeth Weinberg, a senior at ASU, was found in southeastern Coconino County just before noon, Coconino County sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair said. Two U.S. Forest Service employees on snowmobiles found her Wednesday about 45 miles southeast of Winslow while they were checking gates on forest roads.

Although cold, wet and hungry, Weinberg said she was "thankful to be alive," reported.

"I am so thankful to be alive and warm," Weinberg said in a news release from Flagstaff Medical Center. "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."

Weinberg, who was released from Flagstaff Medical Center early Thursday, was last seen leaving her mother's home in south Phoenix on Dec. 11 and told authorities she became stuck in the snow a day later, Blair said.

"She told us she left on a paved road out of Winslow that turns into a dirt road, which makes sense cause that would be that Forest Road 34," says Blair.

What Weinberg did not know is that she ventured out onto an unpaved forest road that is nearly impossible to navigate in the winter. Her car became stuck, so she sat there for days and days with nothing more than candy and a bottle of water. 

Coconino County Lt. Jim Coffey told that Weinberg ate a Snickers candy bar and a bag of M&M's candies throughout the next 10 days. 

She also crushed snow into a water bottle, then set it on top of her car so the sun could melt it into drinking water. Authorities said her survival was remarkable, given the more than 2 feet of snow in the area and temperatures that dipped to near zero some of the nights.

Blair said Weinberg had a cellphone, but the battery was dead.

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

A strong winter storm hit the area the day Weinberg became stranded and hung around for two more days, followed by even colder temperatures, said Chris Outler of the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. Daytime temperatures in the town of Heber, about 20 miles to the northeast, were in the mid- to low-30s over the past 10 days.

Phoenix police told local TV station KTVK that Weinberg had purchased items at convenience stores in Chandler, Superior and Show Low on Dec. 11 and in Holbrook the following day, but there was no other sign of her since then.

Weinberg, who is studying supply chain management, missed her final examinations at school, and her family was concerned because her behavior was out of the ordinary, police told the station.

Weinberg disappeared less than a week after an elderly New Mexico couple took a wrong turn and got stranded on a remote forest road in eastern Arizona. They survived two winter storms over five days before the woman collapsed and died as they tried to hike to safety.

"She's very lucky," Outler said of Weinberg.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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