Article -Student stranded for 5 days near Grand Canyon grew desperate

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A Texas college student stranded for five days near the Grand Canyon says she was making farewell videos for her family as she grew desperate for help.

Arizona authorities say 24-year-old Amber VanHecke was well-equipped and did everything right after getting lost in a remote area during a solo road trip.

VanHecke said in a Facebook post that she was heading to a hiking trail but was led astray by her maps app and wound up in the middle of nowhere with an empty gas tank.

How ‘well-equpped’ are you if you’re relying on apps to figure out where you are and where you’re going?

It seems like more and more of these stories reference people placing their faith in their technology to guide them. Look, I love me some GPS as much as the next guy…but I always look at a real map beofre dumping myself into unfamiliar terrain. And I take a compass and a copy of that map with me. And I establish baselines to keep me within certain areas.

I’m also a little unclear…if she tried to chase down a truck, that means she knew where a traveled road was, right? So youldn’t you just head to the traveled road and walk it until more traffic came along? Clearly the road must have been within walking distance since she was able to see the truck on it. Lotsa details here are missing, but I’d be interested in more.

This is another of the very few cases of didn‘t stay with the car and things turned out well. However, the article seems to imply rescuers found the car first and then the girl.

14 thoughts on “Article -Student stranded for 5 days near Grand Canyon grew desperate

  1. Arizona authorities say 24-year-old Barbie Birkenstock Airhead was well-equipped and did everything right

    Only for some values of “right” which include having your head stuck up beyond the normal reach of daylight sunshine.

    after getting lost in a remote area during a solo road trip.

    Barbie said in a Facebook post that she was heading to a hiking trail but was led astray by her maps app and wound up in the middle of nowhere with an empty gas tank.

    So apparently, had no actual map, no way (nor plan, nor notion that such was even a good idea) to check the veracity of Somedood’s sketchy $2.99 piece of vaporware against reality on the ground, and lacked the common sense God gave a jackass to shoot a back azimuth, turn the f*** around, and go back to civilization once her fuel gauge reached the halfway point.
    Aircraft piloting 101 stuff, but apparently Chinese calculus for 20-something airheads venturing to the great scary distance beyond cell phone coverage.

    And since she didn’t get to where she set out for, she had no idea where she actually was, thus no idea which way to travel for help, and probably far less than the requisite skills and supplies to reach it once lost in BFArizona.

    In short, she was ill-equipped, most of all with regard to forethought, and did just about everything wrong. PPPPPPP.

    This chick was bucking for a Darwin Award, and only missed winning the prize by the grace of God (or the serendipitous role of chance in a hostile universe) and the skills of search parties. One can but hope she either grows a brain, or succeeds in her quest before she successfully breeds.

    My money would be on the latter, not least of which because she still hasn’t reached the age in life when long-term common sense grows into the brain.

    • what an ugly way to mock someone who made some bad choices. Do you feel better about yourself for it?

      • Feel free to put as much lipstick on that pig as you like; I wasn’t particularly concerned about the aesthetics of the lesson illustrated.

        Read some NTSB reports on private airplane crashes.
        Note that they don’t come sugarcoated either, nor are provided with any complimentary butthurt cream.

        If you want to send Dopey a participation trophy and a teddy bear for activating a widespread search and rescue event, one that was entirely preventable with about an ounce of brains beforehand, go on ahead. I figure someone who survived to the age of 24 should be able to take some personal responsibility for themselves, especially at this level of facepalm. The car didn’t drive itself empty and lost in the middle of the desert, now did it?

        At last look, there’s no notable shortage of stupid people, so as a general rule, I’m not too inclined to shed any tears over them either way.

        But I give her full props for illustrating how not to visit that part of the country that’s off the pavement, for anyone who cares to learn from other people’s life-threatening mistakes, instead of making those same mistakes themselves.

        For reference, the Ten Essentials as promulgated far and wide by the Mountaineers for backcountry travel since the 1930s include bringing a map and compass as the first two items on the list, and have since nearly a century ago.
        Doubtless the Boy and Girl Scouts’ training materials probably did as well, probably only going back to the turn of the last century.

        So it isn’t like this was some arcane and ancient lore unavailable to the average human.

        Thus in all fairness, on considered reflection, it’s probably germane to wonder if she needs instructions on how to breathe.

        But do award yourself full points for virtue-signaling your white knight errantry on behalf of the mentally challenged.

        • “if she needs instructions on how to breathe” Hah. Now you ARE being snarky. Good luck to her if the batteries die in her walkman “breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, brea…” Old joke.

  2. 5 days in the desert… So she had more than one day’s worth of water in the car. I’m guessing that was the prepared part. Not thinking through the gas tank level was the major screw up. If you spend too much time near civilization it is easy to take stores and gas stations for granted.

    • True Jeff. Several years back I moved from Dallas, TX to Winston-Salem, NC. I worked a night job and one night I rolled in to work on fumes, assuming I would get gas on the way home. At that time, Dallas had all night gas stations at every major intersection, but Winston-Salem did not. Your experiences in one place may not help you in another place.

  3. As a 27 year (and still going) member of a Search and Rescue team in Nevada, we call events like this “Death by GPS”. This past January, we had over 25 calls exactly like this. People rely on technology instead of common sense. Combine that with the fact the “snowflake” attitude is everywhere and you end up with a lethal situation. This young lady was very lucky indeed. I have been involved in many SAR calls when the outcome is different……

  4. I’m female so………. can I still be called sexist if I think it was not smart for a young woman to be by herself, in the back country, without telling anybody exactly where she was going to be, nor give anyone a definite time for her to check in so someone could send out the calvary?

    My daughter was recently (last month) heading back to Rexburg in southern Idaho to college after visiting us in North Idaho. On the way, I-15 was closed due to snow and wind. They closed it just before she got there (6 pm) and it didn’t open until 5 am or so the next morning.

    1) She took her paper map from her car kit and looked for bypass.

    2) She called home to check in and discussed what she should do.

    3) We decided on the bypass and put a timeframe on when she should call us.

    4) She did have a traveling companion with her. (Her fiancee)

    5) She encountered lots of snow on the bypass road – over a foot – but she wasn’t worried. She grew up in the backwoods at the end of a 2 mile private mountain road with seasonal access. Her car is 4wd. She had good tires and chains packed if needed.

    6) They came across a minivan stuck in the snow. The mom and dad had just said a prayer with their two kids. My daughter shows up and gets her tow strap out of her kit and pulls them out.

    7) As soon as she made it home, she called to check in.

    Even if she would have been stuck, either by staying on I-15 waiting for the road to reopen or on the detour, she has a full car kit that they could have hunkered down for 3-4 days. Plus, we would have known their approximate location.

    Lesson, things go wrong — all the time. But if you are prepared, the problems can usually be overcome without too much hassle. If you’re not prepared, even little problems compound and life gets hard — fast.

      • Well, maybe Northern Idaho….. Southern has both Boise and Pocatello…. with I dare say their concomitant compliment of the fatally uninstructed.

    • Smart girl – smart mom. :)

      When I was in my 20s – long before GPS & cell phones – I regularly went on camping trips by myself. At the very least, someone in the family knew where I was going & when I should be there or back home. While I wasn’t quite as self-sufficient as your daughter, I never ran into any real trouble – even when I temporarily misplaced myself (I’m not a great map-reader). Good times. :)

  5. A few years ago I started teaching my son how to shoot an azimuth and use a map… he just wasn’t interested. The same BS, “we have GPS for this”.

    We went to the Andersonville cemetary and museum (also the National POW museum, I highly recommend it), waaaaaay out of the way from Interstates and none of us had been there before. I took his phone, handed him a road map and proclaimed, “your phone died and you have no charger. Now you tell me what roads to take to get home.” Did he send us the wrong way? Lots. Did he waste a tank of gas not reading the road signs and not knowing really what village we were in? Sure did. But we eventually got home after some “hints” and it did pull his head out of his azz. The old, “give ’em enough rope” routine, I had the time, the spare change for the gas and I was there to get us unscrewed when he sent us the wrong way, again. And again. And again.

    I tell ya tho, the look on his face when we went through the same small town three times because, “I KNOW!”… priceless.

    • Genius.

      Next time, do it out in the woods.

      You’re contributing to the survival of the species.
      And raising a brighter kid, as opposed to simply feeding one.

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