Missing N.M. man recovering in hospital; wife found dead

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Elizabeth and Dana Davis By Catherine Holland Elizabeth and Dana Davis By Catherine Holland

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- An elderly New Mexico man who has been missing since Dec. 1 has been found alive, but his wife did not survive their ordeal.

The couple had been married 60 years, and friends say they were passionate about travel and adventure.

But their journey that began when they left Chandler for Albuquerque last week, turned out as no one had expected.

Dana Davis, 86, and Elizabeth Davis, 82, left their nephew's home in Chandler last Thursday, but they never arrived at their destination.

On Wednesday morning, nearly a week after the Davises vanished, an officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department spotted Dana walking along a forest road in a remote area east of Globe. He was alone.

When the couple first set out on Dec. 1, they planned to stop in Socorro, N.M., to visit Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

The couple's intended route would have taken them on U.S. Route 60 through Globe and Eagar and then into New Mexico.

According to Detective Seth Tyler of the Chandler Police Department, Dana told officers they accidentally wound up on U.S. 70 after leaving Globe. The couple found a forest road that connected with U.S. 60 on a map. They took it in an attempt to get back on track.

Dana told investigators that his car, a 2001 Buick LeSabre, became disabled about six to 10 miles on to that forest road. Back-to-back winter storms moved through the area, bringing snow and very cold temperatures to the eastern portion of Arizona, right where the Davises were stranded.

The couple stayed in the car and ate leftover food and snacks they had with them, and drank melted snow to stay hydrated, according to Dr. Lawrence Pollack, who is now treating Dana at the Cobre Valley Medical Center.

On Tuesday when their car ran out of fuel, Dana said he and his wife decided to try and make it to the highway on foot.

A short distance into the hike, Elizabeth suffered a medical emergency and collapsed. Despite his efforts to resuscitate her, Dana was not able to save his wife.

Leaving her body behind, Dana continued along the forest road through the evening. He told officers that he took shelter under a tree and then resumed his hike Wednesday morning. He finally met up with the AGFD officer not far from U.S. 60.

A short time after Dana was found, the Civil Air Patrol was able to locate the couple's car.

Deputies with the Gila County Sheriff's Office have confirmed Elizabeth's death and are continuing their investigation in the remote area.

Dana was taken to a hospital in Globe where he is recovering.

"We're thankful for the lives of Betty and Dana, we're grateful that Dana is fine and we're going to celebrate Betty's life," said Katharina Root, a close friend of the couple's from New Mexico.

The couple had two children and four grandchildren, Root said.