Officials say an elderly woman was stranded for several days in the Pinelands without food or water before soldiers from the Massachusetts Army National Guard happened upon her car and saved her.
The Massachusetts guard says the soldiers had been training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and were searching for a suitable location to conduct recovery training when they found the Cadillac stuck in soft sand along a wooded tank trail Monday afternoon.
“At first we didn’t know what to think of it because it was suspicious,” Staff Sgt. Dana Francis of the G Co. 186th Brigade Support Battalion, Massachusetts guard said in a release, adding they honked the horn several times before approaching the vehicle.
According to the release, the doors were open and a sunshade was on the windshield. Francis said that when he approached the vehicle with Sgt. Tommy Coppola, they spotted the woman “slumped in the backseat” and “unresponsive” after calling to her.
But she was breathing, Francis said, and base medical personnel arrived shortly thereafter to treat the woman, who told them that she survived on just some rainwater from passing thunderstorms since Saturday morning.
Temperatures reached the upper 90s over the weekend.
Officials say she suffered extreme dehydration and possibly heat illness. Her condition has improved significantly.
“It was by chance that the contact team was traveling down this remote tank trail and came across the elderly woman. Their response and quick action are just another example of what being a Citizen-Soldier is about,” said Lt. Col. Holloway, commander of the 1-101 FAR.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.