A woman apparently survived for six days on the banks of the Hassayampa River after her car ran off the road, busted through a fence and landed in the branches of a mesquite tree. If a cow had not found the hole in the fence, she might have perished. Arizona Department of Public Safety released details of the incident late last week.

According to DPS, on Friday, Oct. 12 a 53-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle along US 60 near milepost 117 – south of the rest area. The vehicle traveled through the right-of-way fence and dropped 50 feet, landing in a mesquite tree where it remained suspended above the ground.

At about 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, an Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) maintenance crew and rancher were working to corral a cow which had escaped when they noticed a break in the fence near the roadway. When they stood by the damaged fence, they observed a mangled vehicle lodged in a mesquite tree about 50 feet down from the roadway. ADOT notified the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and a trooper was sent to the scene.

Trooper Caleb Hiegel, ADOT road maintenance crew members Zach Moralez and Josh Miller, and rancher Dave Moralez searched the car and did not locate anyone. Instead, they found human tracks leading toward the Hassayampa River. Hiegel and Zach Moralez followed the tracks for 500 yards and discovered a severely dehydrated woman with serious injuries. They began treating the woman and called for a medical helicopter. The chopper landed in the riverbed, and she was flown to a Valley hospital.

“She told us she remembers five days and nights passing,” Hiegel said. Investigators believed the woman because the car was already showing signs of rust in areas where the paint had been compromised, he said.

The woman told Hiegel she lost control of her vehicle and remained inside of the vehicle for several days before climbing out. Once she climbed out, she walked toward the railroad tracks in the area with the hope of being discovered. She never made it because of her weakened physical state. Her name and nature of injuries were not released by authorities due to her request for privacy.

Heigel reported last week that the woman had been released from the hospital.

DPS Director Col.Frank Milstead said, “The diligence of the ADOT crew and teamwork of everyone involved is exemplary and to be commended. Due to their outstanding efforts, this woman’s life was saved.”

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