University Of North Texas Student Survives For Five Days Stranded In Grand Canyon

A Texas college student has shared her incredible story of survival after being stranded in the Grand Canyon for five days. Yes, she is way more badass than us.


What Happened?

Amber Van Hecke, 24, began a driving tour in her Ford Edge on March 10 near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. After she followed her GPS down a non-existent road, she ran out of gas and became stranded on March 12.

Van Hecke spent the next five days surviving on emergency food and water while waiting for rescue and then rescuing herself. On March 17, she left her vehicle and walked 11 miles to find a phone signal to call for help.

Van Hecke was eventually rescued by an air ambulance pilot as she walked back to her car.

She appeared on Good Morning America where she provided more details on the ordeal.

“I was panicking and crying and sobbing. I felt very disconnected from just everything and everyone,” she said. On March 12, Google Maps led her astray at the Havasu Falls Trail Head.

“I turned anyway and figured I’d see the road momentarily. It was getting dark. I came up to a fence with no roads in sight. Panicked since GPS stopped working too. Finally found it but was at 0 to empty. Parked by the first man-made structure I found and decided to wait ’til daylight. Turns out my reserve was exhausted, too.”

Van Hecke survived for the next five days on nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and ramen noodles. She also took matters into her own hands, making a barricade along a nearby path to prevent any cars from passing her without notice. She created help signs by the path and even constructed 10-foot-tall “SOS” and 30-foot-tall “HELP” signs on the ground out of rocks.

After five days, Van Hecke trekked 11 miles to find a cell signal where she was able to make a 911 call before losing service again midway through. Luckily, the call was enough to spark rescue efforts and 40 minutes later she was spotted by an air ambulance pilot.

“She was a survivor, she did a lot of things that helped her survive,” the pilot said. “Those notes were clues and those clues led us to where she was.”


Who Is Amber VanHecke?

Amber VanHecke is a 24-year-old University of North Texas student who survived for five days stranded in the Grand Canyon. She studies International Business and Diplomacy with a minor in Alternative Dispute Resolution. She is currently raising money to help cover her medical costs.

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