Marooned on an uninhabited island. Lost in the wilderness. Stuck inside a box sent through the British post system. These are all fears each of us has contemplated at one time or another. As you'll see below, they're also something that apparently occurs with some regularity. Here are six stories of survival from around the world — and they all happened in just the last two months!
9 days lost in Arizona
On March 31, 72-year-old Ann Rodgers (shown in the video above) packed up her hybrid car, loaded up her canine companion, and set out to visit her grandkids in Phoenix. During her journey through Arizona's White Mountains, Rodgers became lost and eventually ran out of gas and battery power.
When she ventured into the mountains to locate a cell signal, she became disoriented and was forced to go into survival mode, according to The Associated Press. For the next nine days and nights, Rodgers and her dog drank pond water, ate plants and a turtle, and did what they could to survive. Her rescue came after a series of daily discoveries by authorities, from her abandoned vehicle to her dog, culminating in a "HELP" message made with tree branches and rocks, a message spotted by a helicopter.
Although suffering from exposure, Rodgers was able to walk to the helicopter and was admitted in fair condition to the hospital.
3 days as castaways
What started off as a short jaunt aboard a sailing vessel in the South Pacific turned into a harrowing survival tale for the three crew members aboard. After an unexpected storm struck on April 4, capsizing their vessel, the trio were forced to ditch in the ocean and swim to the long-deserted Fanadik Island.
Three days later, a U.S. Navy plane scouring the area as part of a collective regional search for the men spotted a H-E-L-P message in the sand. "These partnerships are critical to successful search and rescue cases in remote parts of the Pacific," the US Coast Guard posted on its Facebook page. "The ingenuity of these men to build their sign and the preparedness of having lifejackets also contributed to their safe rescue."
In early February, fisherman Nick Haworth reported to the U.S. Navy that his 1-year-old dog Luna had gone missing from his vessel. At the time of her disappearance, Haworth says he was positioned about two miles off San Clemente Island near the California coast. While Haworth told officials that he was 90 percent sure his dog would swim for shore, a subsequent search of the island and the surrounding coast by staff turned up nothing.
"After about a week, it was presumed she had never even made it to shore because they hadn't seen a sign of her," Sandy DeMunnik, public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy's Naval Base Coronado, told MNN. "They presumed she was lost at sea."
Five weeks later, Luna was found sitting by the side of a road on San Clemente. "Keep in mind, there are no domesticated animals on the island," DeMunnik told ABC News. "So it was a stunning sight."
Besides being a bit undernourished, Luna was otherwise fine, surviving on a diet DeMunnik believes was supplemented by the island's healthy population of mice.
4 days on a glacier
The Harding Icefield in Alaska covers more than 300 square miles and spawns up to 40 different glaciers. (Photo: Pepahavlin /WikiMedia)
What was originally supposed to be a five-hour excursion turned into a harrowing four-day experience for two hikers in Alaska.
On April 8, Jennifer Neyman and Christopher Hanna hired a private plane to take them to the scenic Harding Icefield on the Kenai Penninsula. The situation turned serious after a storm appeared, canceling their return flight and forcing the pair to endure the harsh elements.
“To kind of give an example, it would be like flying an airplane in a Ping-Pong ball or a snow globe, with no visibility,” explained National Guard Capt. John Romspert to KTVA. “So it’s very difficult for the crew to have reference points and even land on the glacier at that time.”
While the couple had smartly prepared for the worst with rations for two days and a tent, the storm forced them to dig a snow cave to survive. After being able to do little more than air drop supplies during the storm, the National Guard was finally able to rescue the hikers on April 12.
“They had to dig out four-feet of snow around the survivors to get to them,” National Guard Lt. Col. Matt Calabro told the AP.
8 days in the mail
Cat owners have all experienced the amusement of finding their felines enjoying some snooze time in some random bag, box, or other small space. In the case of Cupcake the Siamese cat, a brief respite in a box turned into an eight-day nightmare through the British mail system.
The ordeal started in early March when Cupcake fell asleep in a box of DVDs her owner, Julie Baggott had sold online. Baggott, unaware that her cat was nestled inside, taped up the box and dropped it off at the post office. Cupcake then traveled more than 260 miles in the United Kingdom from Cornwall to Wessex, giving the recipient a tremendous surprise when she opened the box to retrieve the videos.
“This person was somewhat startled as they were not expecting to receive a free cat along with their order of DVDs," Grove Lodge Veterinary Hospital said in recounting the story.
After scanning Cupcake's microchip, the vet was able to contact the distraught owner.
"The serious side of this incredible journey is that poor Cupcake was extremely dehydrated and has required intensive treatment to ensure she recovers fully," the added.
23 days in the jungle
Columbian soldier Yefer Orlando Sanchez Fonseca became separated from the rest of his group during a military exercise on March 5. For the next 23 days, he survived in the dense jungle by eating whatever he could find, including a tortoise that crossed his path.
"I had to take advantage," he told reporters. "I had to eat it raw; I was really hungry by then."
All the while, Fonseca was dodging guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia who were scattered throughout the jungle. "I almost didn’t sleep, I stayed glued to my gun, always alert," he said.
Despite losing a tremendous amount of weight, the 26-year-old was discovered to be in relatively good health, an outcome he credited to his military survival training.