Janice and Butch Duncan, an elderly couple from Michigan, found themselves in an impossible situation of survival. The two set out one Monday morning to sell some items to an acquaintance in Mecosta County, according to 13 On Your Side. But instead, the couple took a wrong turn and found themselves putting their survival skills to the test.
After the Duncans realized they were lost they began to try to backtrack and find their way back but their truck became stuck in the mud in a remote area. Unable to get free, Butch decided to go look for someone who could help. Janice waited with the vehicle. After a time she began to worry as Butch, who didn’t have a cell phone on him, didn’t come back.
“It got dark, and I thought he should be back here in time now,” Janice recalled. “And he didn’t come back.”
As the sunset, Janice decided to wait out the night in the truck. However, the following morning, she set out to look for her husband.
Janice made a smart move that would save both of their lives. Janice wrote a note. It was just a quick scribbling about her situation and her general location, she left the message on the windshield of the truck. Then began her search for her husband.
Janice eventually found Butch. He was stuck in the mud without any shoes. In trying to help him escape the cold muck she found herself in the same predicament as her hubby.
“You can’t walk in, you take one step and you fall,” Janice explained. “I’m trying to get to him, and I kept falling and falling and falling.”
Janice’s cell phone was now submerged in water and no longer working. But they persevered and the couple continued to try to pull themselves from the swampy earth. Janice recalls how she screamed for help, but no one came. For the next two nights, the elderly couple would remain in their muddy prison without food or water. The temperatures dipped drastically during the night.
“I screamed, I screamed, and I screamed to call 911, get us help get us help,” Janice said, but “nobody came.”
Due to the long exposure to the elements, Butch became shaky and drowsy. Janice pleaded with him to stay awake but even she was beginning to lose hope, afraid that they would both die before they’d be found. Thankfully, that was not the case for the elderly pair.
“He was getting real shaky,” said Janice. “He’s trying to go to sleep, and I said, ‘Butch, wake up! Don’t go to sleep!’ I told him I think we’re done. I think we’re going to lay here, and they’re going to find bones someday.”
After three nights in the woods, despair was setting in, but then, a miracle. On Thursday afternoon they heard a voice. It was a Mecosta County Sheriff’s deputy, and he had a team with him. They pulled the elderly couple free from the swamp and transported them to a Mount Pleasant hospital by ambulance.
“I said, thank you God!” Janice recalled. “The ambulance driver told me, he said, ‘if you would have been out there one more day, you’d be dead,’” Janice explained.
Authorities attribute the rescue to the note Janice wrote. The message was found by the landowner after he came upon what appeared to be an abandoned truck. The landowner called the police, who eventually found Janice and Butch.
“I don’t know what made me do it,” said Janice. “I wrote this note saying, we’re here, this happened, where we were going and put it in the windshield. The officer told me that was the greatest thing I could have done.”
Janice and Butch Duncan were released a full week after their survival story began. After the whole dreadful experience they each had some words of wisdom for others.
“Make sure when you go somewhere, everybody knows where you’re going,” Janice said, adding, “so if something happens, they know where to go find you.”
“Don’t get old,” Butch advised with a laugh.
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