Breaking News
More () »

Senior MI couple survive 3 nights, 4 days lost in the woods

"I told him, I think we're done. I think we're going to lay here and they're going to find bones someday," said Janice.

MECOSTA COUNTY, Mich. — Janice and Butch Duncan put their survival skills to the test last week, though it was never their intention.

The couple in their 70s set out last Monday morning to sell some items to an acquaintance in Mecosta County. On their way, they took a wrong turn down a two-track road. Then, their truck became stuck in the mud in a remote area. They were unable to pull it free. 

Butch went out looking for someone to help.

"It got dark, and I thought he should be back here in time now," said Janice Duncan. "And he didn't come back."

Janice said Butch did not have a cell phone with him. Once night fell, she waited out the night in the truck. Early Tuesday morning, she set out looking for her husband. 

She found him stuck in a swamp, missing his shoes. 

"You can't walk in, you take one step and you you fall," said Janice. "I'm trying to get to him, and I kept falling and falling and falling."

She then became stuck in the swamp too. Janice did have a cell phone on her, but by the time she became stuck, it had been submerged in water and no longer worked.

They continued to try and pull themselves from the swamp, but they could not. 

"I screamed, I screamed, and I screamed to call 911, get us help get us help," said Janice, "and nobody came."

For the next two nights, without food or water and with the temperatures dipping at night, they remained stuck in the swamp. 

Credit: 13 OYS

"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."

Then, Thursday afternoon, a voice called out in the woods. 

"I said, thank you God!" said Janice. 

It was a Mecosta County Sheriff's deputy. He had a team with him, who pulled them free of the swamp. Ambulances were on site, and they were then transported to a Mount Pleasant hospital. 

"The ambulance driver told me, he said, 'if you would have been out there one more day, you'd be dead,'" said Janice. 

They were dehydrated, had infections from the swampy water and other ailments due to being out in the elements for so long. 

Mecosta County Sheriff's Office confirmed the rescue, saying it happened near 11 Mile Road and 120th Avenue. 

Janice said what saved them was God, and one thing she did before leaving the truck to find 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."

Credit: 13 OYS
Butch and Janice spent days in the hospital, recovering from their survival event.

The owner of the land had spotted the abandoned truck, saw the note, and called police. That's when they found Janice and Butch. 

They spent a few days in the hospital, released Monday morning, a full week after their survival story began. Now, the couple are back home, excited for rest and showers. 

Janice said she learned something after it all. 

"Make sure when you go somewhere, everybody knows where you're going," said Janice, "so if something happens, they know where to go find you."

Butch's advice? "Don't get old," he said with a laugh. 

A friend of Janice and Butch's has set up a GoFundMe to help with medical and other expenses after their rescue. That page can be found by clicking here.

RELATED VIDEO: Grand Haven woman celebrates 81st birthday by skydiving as she's always wanted

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out