A woman stranded in Australia’s bush when her car became stuck on a rural road didn’t think she would make it out of the ordeal alive — until she was saved five days later, having only a bottle of wine to drink.
Lillian Ip, 48, was on holiday in Bright, a small town surrounded by mountains and national parks in the state of Victoria, when she failed to make her daily call to check in with family members on April 30, police wrote in a press release.
Unknown at the time, Ip had tried to visit Dartmouth Dam, a two-hour drive to a nearby lake. She hit a dead end and realized she had taken a wrong turn. When she attempted to turn around, her car got stuck in the mud — or as Victoria police put it, “became bogged.”
With no cell service and the nearest town being 60 kilometres away through dense bushland, Ip was left with few options. The 48-year-old had health issues that could have made a solo trek through the wilderness a fatal decision, so she resolved to stay with her car and wait for help.
“She was only planning a short day trip so had only taken a couple of snacks and lollies with her but no water,” said local police Sgt, Martin Torpey.
The only liquid she had in the car was a bottle of wine, meant as a gift for her mother when she returned from the holiday. The only problem, besides the fact that wine causes dehydration, is that Ip doesn’t drink alcohol.
In a video interview with 9News Australia, Ip was asked how the bottle of wine tasted. The expletive she used was bleeped out.
Four days into being stranded, Ip was convinced she wouldn’t survive the ordeal. She told 9News that she wrote a letter to her family telling them she loved them and to not cry for her.
Meanwhile, Ip’s family had contacted emergency services who were carrying out extensive searches of the areas around Bright. For days, they were unable to find any sign of the woman, until they enlisted a police helicopter to join the search.
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On Friday afternoon, a day after Ip wrote her goodbye letter to her family, she heard the sound of beating helicopter blades.
A video from the helicopter captured the moment Ip’s car was spotted, and then Ip herself, arms waving, standing on a dirt road amid tall trees. The helicopter flagged Ip’s location to a nearby police van, which sped to her location and found her safe.
“After being lost in the bush for five days, she was extremely relieved and grateful to see us and we were just as happy to see her,” Torpey said.
The helicopter video also shows when Ip finally spots the police van coming to get her. She bows numerous times and takes the officers by the hands as they lead her to their vehicle.
Ip was taken to the hospital and treated for dehydration.
The 48-year-old said one of the first things that came to mind when she saw the police officers coming was that she needed water and a smoke.
“Thank god the policewoman had a cigarette,” she said.
Police commended Ip for staying with her car, which helped them spot her among the trees.
“She used great common sense to stay with her car and not wander off into bushland, which assisted in police being able to find her,” Torpey said.
Ip is grateful that police found her in the nick of time.
“I thought that I was going to die there. My whole body shut down on Friday,” she said. “I was about to give up.”
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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