Five-Mile Walk to Make 911 Call Led to Joshua Tree National Park Rescue

The two missing friends, stranded after tire trouble, walked five miles to find a cellular signal so they could call 911

View Comments ()



    Blue jeans, a tank top and a light-weight sweater were the only clothes Helen Melnyk had to wear during the four cold nights. She spokes with NBC4's Annette Arreola on Today in LA on Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012)

    Blue jeans, a tank top and a light-weight sweater were the only clothes Helen Melnyk had during the four cold nights that she and a friend were stranded in Joshua Tree National Park.

    "I had slip-on, like ballerina shoes, on," Melnyk said Wednesday, hours after her daughter notified NBC4's Robert Kovacik that her mother and the friend were rescued by a helicopter crew late Tuesday.

    Tony Nosow, 59, of Landers, and Melnyk, 56, of Lakewood, were reported missing by family members Sunday night. They had planned to drive back-country roads in the park on Saturday, according to park officials, but tire trouble left them stranded.

    The two stayed near their vehicle for the first two days. They turned on the truck's heater at night to stay warm.

    "It made it a little more bearable, but didn't prepare us for the weather once we left the vehicle," she said.

    They rationed food and water -- a couple of snacks and water bottles.

    "We just drank a cap full of water," said Melnyk. "We were taking the water bottles and cans of soda and shaking them just to get a drop of water or some kind of liquid out of there."

    The truck, which daughter Kristina Melnyk said has a dash-mounted laptop, is equipped with a GPS-tracking device, but no cellular signal meant it could not be activated. The couple walked five miles -- Melnyk clutching a Coach bag she purchased two days prior to the trip -- before finding cellular service, allowing them to call 911.

    Rangers, California Highway Patrol aircraft crew and volunteers searched about 1,200 square miles before locating the couple.

    Refresh this page for updates.