US & Canada

Great-grandma and cat survive five days in Colorado wilderness

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Media caption"What will be, will be. You just got to accept it."

An 85-year-old woman survived in her car for five days with nothing but her pet cat, some spare clothes, snacks and a tin of cat food.

Ruby Stein's ordeal began when she took a wrong turn on 21 March while driving in Colorado's Rocky Mountains.

The great-grandmother had no phone signal, and her car battery died after she continuously flashed the lights and honked the horn in hope of rescue.

She was found by hikers who stumbled upon her car lodged in the snow.

Mrs Stein was visiting her great-grandchildren in Gypsum, Colorado, when she decided to cut the trip short because of an incoming snow storm.

She set out on the 245-mile (400km) drive back home to Akron, also in the mountain state.

But on the way to the interstate, she got lost and ended up on a mud and snow-covered road in the Eagle County wilderness area.

Image copyright ABC
Image caption Ruby Stein and her cat, Nikki, recover from their ordeal

After travelling for nearly 20 miles (32km) on a dirt road, her Nissan Sentra became stuck.

But the doughty octogenarian did not panic.

"I keep myself very calm, which surprised me," she told Denver7 News.

"Of course, if you raise five kids, you know.

"What will be, will be. You just got to accept it."

Mrs Stein said her cat, Nikki, helped keep her warm, especially at night when temperatures dropped below freezing.

She used clothes her granddaughter had given her for donation to cram in the cracks between the car doors to keep out the cold.

Image copyright ABC
Image caption Mrs Stein's car got stuck on a remote road in Colorado's Rocky Mountains

With the ingenuity of a born survivor, Mrs Stein used an empty tin of cat food to melt snow on top of the car dashboard and fashioned a blanket from safety pins and spare clothes.

She rationed her butterscotch-flavoured rice crispy treat, allowing herself only two bites per day, and occasionally thought about eating Nikki's food.

Just as she was down to her last crumbs, two hikers stumbled upon Mrs Stein's car trapped in the snow.

"No, everything is not OK," hiker Dan Higbee told the Denver Post he recalled Mrs Stein saying after they asked her if everything was alright.

"She had more food out for the cat than she did for herself," his partner, Katie Preston, said.

She added that Mrs Stein talked non-stop on the drive back to her home.

Mrs Stein attributes her survival skills to her upbringing in the US West.

"I've just always been a doer," she told the Post. "I'm an old farm girl from the day I was born."