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93-year-old survives 11 hours in car after crashing down hill

July 9, 2012 |  8:53 am

A nearly 94-year-old driver in Marysville, Calif., slid down a steep embankment and had to beat back the bushes around her car with her cane until she was rescued 11 hours later.

"My wheels started jerking," Genevieve Couch told Fox40 television in Sacramento, "and I lost control of the car. Went across the road, down an embankment, and bingo...."

The accident occurred Friday morning on northbound Highway 70 in the town northeast of San Francisco. Police estimate the embankment she slid down was 50 to 60 feet below the highway.

It was far too steep for her to climb back up herself. But before she even tried, she had to get out of her car.

"I tried my door on the driver's side and there was a tree there, so I couldn't open it. So I put all my [windows] down while it still had electric [power]," Couch said.

She said the passenger side also was blocked by thick, thorny brush. Using her cane, she reached out the window and literally beat the bushes back, away from her door.

There were dozens of puncture wound and cuts on her arms where the thorns scraped her. She also took a deep cut to her wrist in the accident. She busied herself creating a makeshift bandage for the wound while she waited.

The hours dragged on. Police began searching for her but the California Highway Patrol helicopter could not located her from the sky because of the deep brush.

"I wasn't scared," she said. "I was just dying for a drink of water. I couldn't even find a piece of candy or a piece of gum in my car."

Eventually, some people walking by saw her and called police. Eleven hours after the ordeal began, she was rescued.

"Well, all I can say is, 'Keep your head. Don't panic.' Because that's what's gonna get you, when you panic," she said.

At less than a month shy of her 94th birthday, Couch said she doesn't rattle easily. Even considering what she's been through.


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Fox40 Sacramento