A desperate young woman was stranded in the desert for five days, and thought she was going to die.
“This is awful, I hate it,” Amber VanHecke, 24, said in a video she created while stuck in the Arizona wilderness. “I wanna leave messages for you guys, but every time I think about it, I just start crying.”
She left the heartbreaking words to her family in a video diary she made while stranded.
VanHecke was on spring break in the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and was in her car trying to get to the famous Havasu Falls Trail for a hike, but she said Google maps told her to turn onto a road that didn't exist.
She turned anyway, but then ran out of gas — and found herself in the worst situation of her life.
“I’ve rationed my water. Three bottles a day,” she said in the video.
Vanhecke started the video diary in case she didn’t make it.
“I've wrote stuff on my back window, 'help,' 'out of gas' and 'lost,'" she said.
Amber used duct tape to spell a giant "help" message on an abandoned oil tank. She formed rocks into a "help" sign she hoped would be visible from the air. But it didn't work.
“A helicopter just flew by. I got out of my car and waved as frantically as I could, but I guess up there it's hard to notice small things on the ground,” she said.
For five days, she struggled to stay alive. There was no cellphone signal, and she was running out of food and water.
In the video, it is pitch black outside, and the desert night was freezing.
On day 5, VanHecke made a fateful decision to hike out.
“I will pack all the water I can,” she said.
She left a message for rescuers: “Just in case.if you read this, please come help me."
Ten miles later, she got a faint phone signal and got through to 911. The signal died after less than 60 seconds. But it was enough. A rescue helicopter found her, and she started to cry.
Rescue pilot Jonah Nieves, who found her, told Inside Edition, “She had tears of joy,” and that she was so happy someone came to save her. She was rescued on March 17.
“It’s a really indescribable moment, a lot of relief. I felt cold all over for a minute. I could feel it washing all over me,” VanHecke told Inside Edition from her Texas home.
VanHecke is raising funds for her rescue and medical care on GoFundMe.