A Depew woman and her sister are home after being stranded for nearly two weeks in snowy Michigan. The women said they survived off Girl Scout cookies, cheese puffs and prayer.
“It was just gonna be a ten-day trip,” Lee Wright said laughing.
With her sense humor fully intact, Lee doesn't mind talking about the vacation that ended with rescuers searching for her and her sister, Leslie Roy.
The two were traveling through Michigan to visit family. They met in Nebraska, where Leslie lives, and drove her Ford Explorer, making a few stops on the way.
“Stopped off in Minnesota, that's where my daughter is, and that's where I got the Girl Scout cookies, I bought them from my granddaughter,” Lee said.
Not knowing at the time, the stash of thin mints and shortbread cookies would wind up being a key component of an unusual survival kit.
4/27/2015 Related Story: Relative Says Girl Scout Cookies, Cheese Puffs Kept Depew Woman Alive
“We had eight boxes total,” she said.
The sisters got stranded on Saturday, April 11, on their way to see a remote lighthouse.
The rural snowy roads looked passable at first, but a few miles in, Leslie decided to turn around.
“And no sooner did we turn around, that's when we got stuck,” said Lee.
Stuck with no cell phone service, the two took a hike in hopes getting a call out.
“That walk took us almost five hours round trip,” she said.
Lee's phone still shows the 42 calls she made to 911, calls that never went through.
So the two waited, they knew it would be a few days before family would realize something was wrong.
“On Monday and Tuesday, we worked real hard trying to dig out the snow underneath the car,” she said.
But when the battery died four days in, that stopped.
“Leslie would always encourage because I would get very discouraged. She says, 'They're out there, they're working, they're looking.'” Lee said.
To help search crews, Lee and Leslie wrote their plea for help on a t-shirt and hung it on a stop sign a mile from where they were stranded.
The shirt had their names, along with how to reach their family.
“We were just hoping someone would come by and see it,” Lee said.
The two melted snow for water and ate Girl Scout Cookies and cheese puffs to keep from starving.
“We did pace ourselves. She had her Cheez-its and I had my Cheetos and we'd eat about six of them a day, and then we'd have cookies for breakfast and our cookie for an evening snack,” Lee said.
The days were long, but the nights were longer and colder. The two slept in the back seat and cuddled to keep warm.
“Luckily she brought two blankets, and by the time it was all said and done, I had five layers of clothes on,” Lee said.
To pass the time, her sister would knit while Lee would read The Bible and pray.
“The first emotional part for me was when we laid down that night and she wanted to say a prayer,” Lee said.
Every day, Lee said they heard a plane fly over the forest.
“We called him 5:00 Charlie,” she said. “He kept us busy, ‘here comes Charlie.'”
They only actually saw the plane once and later learned it was a forest ranger checking for fires.
They knew crews had to be searching, and by day 13 the two were making more signs - this time on paper plates - to hang, hoping to catch someone's eye.
“We knew that this would be our last attempt to try and get somebody's attention,” Lee said.
Just before they got out of the SUV they'd been living in, they heard the sound of a helicopter hovering atop the tall pine trees.
“She's got those sideboards and we were standing on them, jumping and waving our hands you know,” said Lee.
And with that, it wasn't long before the two were wrapped up in Michigan State Police jackets, sitting in the helicopter with sandwiches in hand, after being fed by Girl Scout cookies, and a faith that hope was right around the corner.
“I think this helped me and my sister a lot, The Bible,” Lee said.
The sisters were flown to a hospital but released four hours later after being treated for dehydration.
Both wanted thank the search crews for their tireless efforts to find them. They also say they're thankful to the communities across the country that prayed they'd been found safe.