ABC News’ ‘20/20’ Airs Saturday, March 24 (Rebroadcast)
‘20/20’ GOES BACK TO THE DESERT WITH A YOUNG WOMAN WHO SURVIVED THERE FOR FIVE DAYS WITH NO WAY OUT
Report Includes Interviews With First Responders Who Recount the Rescue Minute by Minute and Emotional Family Members Who Didn’t Know Where She Was
‘20/20’ Airs Saturday, March 24 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC
Stranded in the desert, no cell phone reception, no gas in her car, cut off from the rest of the world for five days – how did she survive? On March 12, 2017, Amber VanHecke followed her GPS down a primitive road, but then lost service, suddenly turning her spring break trip to the Grand Canyon into a nightmare. She spent 119 hours isolated in the desert before a rescue team was able to locate her. ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman travels with VanHecke into the desert to the exact location where she was stranded and retraces her steps, discussing how she survived and what she thought was going to happen. The report also includes interviews with the first responders who take “20/20” through the minute-by-minute rescue to find VanHecke – from the air to the ground – and the emotional interviews with her family who had no idea where she was. “20/20” airs on Saturday, March 24 (10:00 – 11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Rebroadcast. ABC OAD: 3/31/17)
After running out of gas, VanHecke made signs, set fires to signal for help and rationed her food and water. She waited for days, hoping a rescue team would find her and recording videos for her family and friends in case she didn’t make it out alive. On the fourth day, a truck passed her but did not see her attempts to flag them down. As it became clearer that there was no search team looking for her, VanHecke decided to leave the area near her car to find a cell signal. After hiking 11 miles, she found a signal and made a call to 911 only for it to drop. Unsure of whether or not the call worked, she made her way back to the car. It turned out that the call did go through and a rescue helicopter brought her to safety.
“20/20” is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir. David Sloan is senior executive producer.