Lost hiker survives several days in desert
POSTED: Monday, April 30, 2012 - 1:15pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 30, 2012 - 1:19pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Victoria Grover is an avid outdoorswoman with survival skills and medical training.
Even with that background, officials say the 59-year- old woman is lucky to be alive.
Grover, of Wade, Maine, is recovering at Salt Lake City's Valley View Medical Center after surviving four days in a remote area with a broken leg, few supplies and very little food before she was rescued Saturday.
She also suffers from Type 2 diabetes.
"How she survived is beyond me," Garfield County sheriff's spokeswoman Becki Bronson said.
Police say Grover journeyed out for a day hike Tuesday from the Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch to visit the Sand Creek area.
She wanted to visit Sand Creek because she had been there 40 years ago for an outdoor survival experience while attending Brigham Young University, Bronson said.
"I wanted to come down and kind of spiritually reconnect with all the nifty things that I learned," she said, talking to reporters from her hospital bed Sunday.
It became too dark for Grover to make it back to her car, so she decided to spend the night in the desert.
The next morning, Grover broke her leg while jumping off a 4-foot ledge.
Officials say the break was severe and will require surgery.
Grover was able to make it back to Sand Creek to drink water, but other than a few light snacks, she had no food and no shelter, Bronson said.
"There were several times that I asked myself, 'Was I scared, was I scared?' I really wasn't scared until I stopped shivering, and that's when I got scared. Because I thought if somebody doesn't find me pretty soon, I'm going to die of hypothermia," she said.
On the third day, she saw the search helicopter fly overhead. She said she waved but the helicopter didn't see her. Grover says she wishes she would have thought about signaling the pilot with a flashlight that she had with her. But on the fourth day, he flew over again and this time saw her.
"She was waving to us, which was such an exciting thing," said rescuer Mike Ahlstrom, fighting back emotions. "You're just ecstatic. You want to jump up and down that they're alive."
"I cannot say enough about how wonderful it was to see them," Grover said. "Not just when they arrived and I realized I was rescued, but their behavior, how they behaved towards me. They obviously knew what they were doing, they came down, they were comforting, they were kind."
Grover, who works as a physician's assistant, told deputies she survived by laying in the sun during the daylight to sleep and staying awake at night.