An 55-year-old woman lost for three days in the Australian wilderness has been rescued after her desperate call for help was captured on CCTV footage.
Deborah Pilgrim was found dehydrated, but in “good spirits” Tuesday night near Sedan, about 4 miles from where she was last seen leaving a party to go for a walk early Sunday, James Blandford, a spokesperson for the South Australia Police, said at a press conference.
“I went out for a walk in the bush, and before I knew it, I didn’t know where I was. It’s as simple as that,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I thought I was on my own out there and nobody had any idea. I walked through the daytime and slept at night.”
Blandford said Pilgrim arranged herself a camp and found some shelter, but fell ill after drinking water.
During her hunt for fresher water, she spotted a CCTV camera, and spelled out “SOS” in the dirt in the hopes that it was being monitored.
Despite the remote area, the private property was, in fact, being monitored about 45 miles away by owner Neil Marriott, according to the BBC, who had heard about her disappearance in the media.
“I put two and two together and called police, but by the time there were able to get out there it was dark,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide. “They found the SOS on the ground, but then they also found a hoodie jacket, which obviously belonged to the lady.”
Police eventually found Pilgrim a little less than a mile away from her “SOS” marker, on a neighboring property where she had found fresh water.
She was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but has since been released, Blandford said.
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“I think I dropped to the ground,” Pilgrim told the Herald of the miraculous moment in which she was found by police. “I just ran towards them, it was wonderful.”
Though police said they never believed Pilgrim’s disappearance to be suspicious, authorities were “really concerned” for her, as the area in which she was lost is “quite harsh,” with many potentially dangerous reptiles lurking.
The hunt for Pilgrim included police helicopters and drones, as well as many volunteers, though Blandford said that had they exhausted their search area with no luck, finding her “would’ve been a needle in a haystack.”