Surprise woman survives 4 days stranded in the desert

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A Valley family is calling their 79-year-old matriarch's survival in the desert "a miracle."

Ethel Crescenzo disappeared last Tuesday, while driving from her West Valley home in Surprise, to a casino in Scottsdale. A Silver Alert was issued, and after several days, the family was close to giving up hope.

Sunday afternoon, a rancher found Ethel's car in the desert near 179th Avenue and Dove Valley, far from her intended destination. A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office helicopter crew spotted Ethel 300 yards from her car.

Crescenzo told police that she became lost and eventually stopped near the location where she was found. She did not know how long she had been lost in the area.

"This woman is stubborn, I tell you," said close family friend, Chrissy Smith. The family cannot explain how she was able to survive for four days alone in the desert, without food or water.

"I don't think I could have done it. And for a 79-year-old, should she have survived? No," Ethel's son George said. Ethel is diabetic, and survived kidney cancer. She was without any medication.

"It's a miracle," her son said. Ethel remains in the hospital, where she's being treated for dehydration, a broken ankle, and other cuts and bruises.