LUCE COUNTY, MI — Two sisters who were missing for nearly two weeks in a remote area of the Upper Peninsula survived on Girl Scout Cookies and cheese puffs.
Lee Wright, 56, and Leslie Roy, 52, were weak but otherwise seemed to be in good condition when a state police helicopter rescued them Friday from a two-track road in northern Luce County, where their Ford Explorer became stuck in deep snow on April 11. The women stayed with the vehicle, which had died earlier this week.
The out-of-state residents relied on eight boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and cheese puffs for food, as well as snow for water.
“It is unbelievably remarkable,” said Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Jeff Marker, who was one of four rescuers aboard the helicopter. “They had multiple layers of clothes on and they were rationing their food.”
Marker said the helicopter had been searching in the area for about two and a half hours when a sergeant spotted a glimmer in the woods about 2:20 p.m. Friday. That glimmer turned out to be the SUV’s windshield.
“We circled and we could see the vehicle, and then they came out of their vehicle waving their arms,” Marker said.
Wright, from Oklahoma, and Roy, from Nebraska, were traveling in the Upper Peninsula and had visited family in Ishpeming. They were last seen by relatives April 10. The sisters had planned to stay at a Mackinaw City hotel the following day but never arrived.
Their SUV got stuck in snow along Crisp Point Road, about three miles west of Crisp Point Lighthouse on Lake Superior. The road, just wide enough for one vehicle, was impassable, Marker said. Trees line the road.
The women said they tried to call 911 several times but didn’t have cell phone service.
Friday’s rescue came after the second day of searching by helicopter, Marker said. One of the women earlier had sent a Facebook message to a relative inquiring about Tahquamenon Falls, so police homed in on the area.
“Basically there was some mention on a possibility of one of the things they wanted to visit was the Tahquamenon Falls,” Marker said.
Once they landed the helicopter on a beach, police hiked for about 25 minutes to reach Wright and Roy in the woods.
“When we pulled up, they grabbed their purses and Lee Wright clutched onto her Bible and both women were very happy,” Marker said. “It was hugs all around.”
After expressing their relief, the women mentioned that a bear had visited their vehicle two nights in a row.
“They knew it wasn’t rescuers coming for them because rescuers would have flashlights,” Marker said the women told police.
Police called for backup assistance so the women wouldn’t have to hike out the woods. Prior to help arriving, a Grand Rapids family driving four wheelers gave them a ride to the helicopter.
The sisters reunited with family at Luce County Airport and were transported to Helen Newberry Joy Hospital in Newberry for precautionary medical evaluations and treatment.
“The family’s very relieved,” Marker said.
story and photo credits: Angie Jackson and John Tunison – MLive