A rancher and highway workers chasing a cow found a 53-year-old woman who survived in the Arizona desert for six days after a car wreck that left her seriously injured, officials said Wednesday.
The unidentified woman was discovered curled up in a dry riverbed and severely dehydrated on Oct. 18.
"She was in the fetal position, and there was no movement," Arizona transportation worker Zach Moralez said. "We started asking her a bunch of questions: 'How long have you been here? Do you have any pain?'"
"She was in the fetal position, and there was no movement. We started asking her a bunch of questions: 'How long have you been here? Do you have any pain?'"
Moralez, his rancher brother Dave Moralez and a co-worker were corraling a cow on the highway when they saw a damaged fence, a mangled car and footprints leading from the vehicle, Reuters reported.
The wrecked car had dropped 50 feet and landed on a mesquite tree.
"We got down there as quick as we could, hollering out if anyone could hear us," Zach said Wednesday. "No response."
Though the group did not find anyone at first, they didn't give up and found the woman with the help of an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper.
“I don’t know if she could have made it there another night,” Dave said, according to Reuters, citing a local source.
Despite being somewhat lethargic and in pain, she was alert enough to open her eyes and answer questions. Moralez said she was dirty from sleeping on the ground and had facial trauma — likely from the crash.
She was airlifted to a hospital about 15 minutes later, ending her six-day ordeal in a rural area.
The woman told the trooper she stayed inside the vehicle after the Oct. 12 crash for several days before climbing out, Fox 10 Phoenix reported. The accident happened when she lost control of her vehicle on a rain-slicked road near Wickenburg, Ariz., about 65 miles north of Phoenix, according to Reuters.
She walked toward the area's railroad tracks hoping to be found, but didn't make it due to her condition, the report said.
DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead commended the transportation workers and the rancher.
"Due to their outstanding efforts, this woman's life was saved," he said in a statement.
Zach said it's a good feeling to know that he helped make the difference between life and death for someone.
"I believe people are put in the right place in the right time," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.