An Arizona State University student survived for days in the snow on just a few candy bars and some melted snow, according to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department.
Phoenix police sent out a missing person’s report for Lauren Elizabeth Weinberg, 23, after she had been missing from the Valley for about 10 days. She was last seen leaving her mother’s Ahwatukee Foothills home on Dec. 11.
She was found safe with her car on a snowy road on Wednesday.
“At about 11:30 a.m. our dispatch got a call that two forest service employees were in that area and they were on snowmobiles,” said Gerry Blair of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department. “They were checking winter road closure gates to make sure that they were closed, and they came upon her and her vehicle.”
Blair said Weinberg told them she had been stuck in that area since Dec. 12 when she turned onto a paved road outside of Winslow that turned into a dirt road, and her car became stuck. Since then, she had been melting snow into water by putting it in a plastic water bottle in the sun. She had also had two candy bars she had eaten.
Weinberg was hungry, but alive and well when found.
Blair said Weinberg made smart decisions by staying near her car for shelter and using what little she had, but he had some suggestions for others planning trips to the snow.
“If you’re going to go on a trip that’s more than just going to the grocery store we would suggest that you tell somebody,” Blair said. “Tell them when you’re leaving, what the destination is, what the travel plans are, and let them know when you plan to return. If you go out and get stuck in the snow and nobody knows you’re gone, or when you’re coming back, then no one knows to come look for you.”
Blair also suggests getting a map of the place you’re headed to to become more familiar with the routes in and out of the area. Even if you’re not planning an overnight stay, Blair says to prepare for unpredictable weather in Flagstaff and have enough provisions in the car to sustain yourself for a few nights.
For those planning on doing some skiing or snowboarding this holiday weekend, Blair also warns there have been a high number of skis and snowboards stolen already this year from Arizona Snowbowl, so always keep equipment locked up or watched.