A 72-year-old woman who got lost in an Arizona forest after running out of petrol en route to a visit with her grandchildren has been rescued after nine days surviving on pond water and plants.
Ann Charon Rodgers, who used sticks and rocks to fashion a "HELP" plea in a clearing, suffered from exposure but was reported in fair condition when she and her dog were found by authorities on a back country road on the Fort Apache Reservation.
The Tucson resident was released from the hospital later that evening and reunited with her family, authorities said.
They said Rodgers had been missing since March 31 when she left home to travel to Phoenix to see her grandchildren.
Rodgers, who was travelling with her dog, said she got lost, ran out of fuel and depleted the charge on her hybrid vehicle. She became disoriented and climbed several ridges in an attempt to get better mobile phone service, to no avail.
An extensive search was launched on April 3 after her vehicle was spotted.
Six days later, a tribal wildlife officer found her dog walking in an area known as Canyon Creek and a state helicopter crew spotted her makeshift distress signal on the canyon floor, according to the statement.
A handwritten message tucked under a rock described her plight and her plans to proceed down the canyon, and searchers said they encountered what appeared to be an abandoned shelter in the area.
She was spotted by a helicopter as it rounded a bend in the canyon.
"Rodgers was located standing next to a signal fire and waving to the helicopter," troopers said in the statement, adding that she was able to walk to the aircraft and board it with little assistance.
A state police spokesman said late on Tuesday afternoon that Rodgers could not immediately be reached for interviews.