Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Reporter Cathy Frye Stable After Rescue From Texas Park

by Nomaan Merchant  on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 2:48 pm  

DALLAS - As her husband went for help, Cathy Frye lay on the ground of a remote Texas state park, hiding from the sun under a small tree.

She was alone for two days until someone on high ground spotted her.

Frye, an award-winning reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, remained in an El Paso hospital Monday, one day after she was airlifted by helicopter to safety. Her husband, Democrat-Gazette photographer Rick McFarland, who had left his wife behind at her request, used his camera to eventually locate his car and drive for help.

He shared the good news with friends in a text message that read in part: "I've not seen her yet, but overjoyed is nowhere near how I feel."

Rescuers found Frye, the 43-year-old mother of two children, in a dry creek known as an arroyo. She had taken off her clothes, was severely dehydrated, and had sunburn, bruises and cactus thorns all over her body, the newspaper reported.

Video: Frye and McFarland talk to the CBS "Early Show" about their ordeal.

The partial federal government shutdown had forced Frye and her husband out of their original destination, Big Bend National Park, on Tuesday. The couple was familiar with that remote park on the U.S.-Mexico border, having been married there in 2001 and visited every year since. But they took a local employee's advice and went west to Big Bend Ranch State Park, which remained open.

The couple arrived Wednesday and headed toward a popular hiking trail. But Frye and McFarland, 58, overshot their mark and spent that night near a scenic overlook, tired and out of water, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

They found the right trail the next day, but then lost it again. While resting, Frye accidentally left behind a fanny pack containing food. That night, the couple slept in wet clothes and with no material to start a fire.

On Friday, Frye told her husband she couldn't go any farther. They decided McFarland should carry on toward their truck, get help and come back for Frye,

McFarland eventually found a ridge with a sweeping view. He took a photo with his camera and zoomed in on his viewfinder - eventually spotting a truck. That helped him find the parking spot where he had left their vehicle so he could head to the ranger's station.

More than three dozen people would join the search for Frye, including U.S. Border Patrol agents and the Texas Department of Public Safety. By Saturday, news that she was missing had gotten back to Little Rock.

 

 

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