Ethel Crescenzo, 79, was driving from her home in Surprise, Arizona to a casino when her fortune took a different turn. Instead of taking her chances with some dice, Crescenzo became lost near the small town of Wittmann on October 14 and ended up spending more than five days alone in the Arizona desert.

“I will say this in the very beginning, she is very poor on directions,” her son, George Crescenzo, told KPHO.

In fact, she had been driving in the wrong direction. Crescenzo told family members that she was traveling to the Talking Stick Casino in Scottsdale, but instead started driving towards Wittmann. Family members said that the grandmother continued driving until she hit a dead end.

The 79-year-old then left her car and rolled down an embankment, where she lost her keys. Exhausted and confused, Crescenzo spent the next several days sleeping on boulders and taking shelter from the sun under bushes. It is not known if she managed to get anything to eat or drink during this period, but when she was found by helicopter last Sunday, she was hospitalized for dehydration.

NBC News reported that rescuers received their biggest clue when someone reported an empty car on the side of the road with the custom license plate “ETHEL.” Authorities eventually found the car and discovered Crescenzo not too far from it.

“And then we got the call, ‘We found her and she’s alive,” a family member said.

Her son comments that it was a miracle that she could have survived for so long by herself in the desert, and that the family is grateful that she was returned to them. Crescenzo currently still remains hospitalized in stable condition.


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