Stranded Michigan Sisters Live 13 Days on Cheese Puffs, Snow and Cookies


Michigan sisters Lee Wright and Leslie Roy were discovered on Friday after having been missing since April 11. The women were found on a tree-lined, single-laned northern Luce County road which had become impassable. Wright, 56, and Roy, 52, had gone missing after a family visit and credit their 13-day survival in the Michigan woods to cheese puffs, eight boxes of Girl Scout cookies and snow.

The women had been visiting family in Ishpeming. They departed on April 10 with plans to say the night at a hotel in Mackinaw City the next day but never checked in. Instead, their Ford Explorer became stuck in the deep snow on Crisp Point Road, in a remote area located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, just west of Lake Superior’s Crisp Point Lighthouse by three miles. Although the sisters had working cell phones while they were stranded, they were unable to reach 911 due to lack of cell phone coverage in the area.

Detective Sgt. Jeff Marker with the Michigan State Police told The Grand Rapids Press that when the women were discovered, they were wearing “multiple layers of clothes” and “were rationing their food.” He called the sisters’ survival after being stranded for 13 days in the woods with only cheese puffs, cookies and snow, “unbelievably remarkable.”

During the ordeal, says Marker, Wright, who lives in Oklahoma, and Roy, who lives in Nebraska, twice heard the sounds of something moving in the woods during the night. Their initial hope that they had been rescued dimmed when nobody appeared, leading the women to believe that bears were lumbering through the woods around them. When the Ford’s battery died earlier in the week, the women made the life-saving decision to remain with their vehicle.

The Associated Press reports that the women were ultimately discovered at approximately 2:20 p.m. on Friday, the second day of searching, when a police helicopter pilot, who was halfway through his second hour of searching for the sisters, spotted a reflection from the Ford’s windshield and landed. Police had been focusing on the area in which the sisters were stranded after seeing a post on Facebook by one of the women, who had asked a relative about Tahquamenon Falls, located near where they were discovered.

Marker described the moment of the sisters’ rescue from the Michigan woods to The Grand Rapids Press. He said that when his group of four from the police helicopter reached their location after a 25-minute hike, “[the sisters] grabbed their purses.” Wright also “clutched onto her Bible and both women were very happy.” When rescued, both women were in good condition, although weak.

Because of their fatigued state, police called for help to spare the women having to make the hike to the helicopter. Before police back-up arrived, a family from Grand Rapids pulled up on their four-wheelers and drove the sisters to the helicopter.

The women’s family met the rescued sisters on the Luce County Airport. They were then taken to a hospital in Newberry, Michigan, to be evaluated and treated. Besides cookies, cheese puffs and snow, the women cite their love for their family and their faith in God, which allowed them to remain confident that they would survive the 13-day ordeal, as one of the main reasons for their survival after becoming stranded.

By Jennifer Pfalz

Michigan Live
Miami Herald

Image by Ivo Ivov – Creativecommons Flickr License