Elderly Couple Survives 2 Nights In Mud Without Food Or Water

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An elderly couple found themselves in a desperate situation after they got stuck in the mud without food, water, or a working cell phone. Miraculously, they survived for multiple days and nights after police say the wife did the “greatest thing” she could have done. Following the harrowing ordeal, both the husband and wife had some words of wisdom to share with others.

Janice Butch Duncan
Janice and Butch Duncan (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Janice and Butch Duncan, a Michigan couple in their 70s, set out on a Monday morning to sell some items to an acquaintance in Mecosta County, according to 13 On Your Side. However, things didn’t go as planned. Instead, the couple took a wrong turn and found themselves putting their survival skills to the test, even though that was never their intention.

After the Duncans took the wrong turn down a dirt road, they attempted to find their way back, but their truck became stuck in the mud in a remote area, The Blaze reported. Unable to pull it free, Butch decided to go look for someone who could help while Janice waited with the vehicle. When Butch, who didn’t have a cell phone on him, didn’t come back, Janice began to worry.

“It got dark, and I thought he should be back here in time now,” Janice recalled. “And he didn’t come back.”

Their troubles began after Janice and Butch Duncan took a wrong turn. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

As darkness fell, Janice decided to wait out the night in the truck, but the following morning, she set out to look for her husband — but not before one smart move that would save both their lives. After quickly scribbling a note about her situation and her general location, Janice left the message on the windshield of the truck and went out looking for her husband. Janice eventually found Butch stuck in the mud without any shoes, but rather than a heroic rescue, she soon 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.”

With Janice also stuck in the mud and her cell phone now submerged in water and no longer working, the Duncans continued to try to pull themselves from the swampy earth, but to no avail. Although Janice screamed for help, no one came. For the next two nights, the elderly couple would remain in their muddy prison without food or water as temperatures dipped at night.

“I screamed, I screamed, and I screamed to call 911, get us help get us help,” Janice said, but “nobody came.”

Janice Duncan’s cell phone became submerged in the water and no longer worked. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Things were looking increasingly grim for the pair as Butch became shakey and drowsy. Janice pleaded with him to stay awake, but she was beginning to lose all hope, convinced that they would both die before they’d be found. Thankfully, however, that would soon change.

“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 — two of which Janice was stuck in the mud with Butch — despair was setting in, but then, they heard a voice called out on Thursday afternoon. It was a Mecosta County Sheriff’s deputy, and he had a team with him. They pulled Janice and Butch Duncan free from the swamp and transported them to a Mount Pleasant hospital by ambulances, which were on site — and it was just in the nick of time.

“I said, thank you God!” Janice recalled, and she had every reason to be grateful. “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 before leaving the truck to find Butch, which was spotted by the landowner after he came upon what appeared to be an abandoned truck. Thanks to Janice’s note, he knew otherwise and called the police, who eventually found Janice and Butch. But, Janice doesn’t take all the credit. Instead, she gives credit to God.

“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.”

After a few days in the hospital recovering from infections and other ailments caused by their prolonged exposure to the elements, Janice and Butch Duncan were released a full week after their survival story began. Once back home, 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.”

Janice Butch Duncan
After the rescue, Janice and Butch Duncan spent a few days in the hospital recovering from ailments caused by prolonged exposure to the elements. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Indeed, that’s something we can all learn from this. With apps that allow you to share your location with loved ones, it’s easier now more than ever to make sure someone knows where you are at all times. Yet, we still see reports of missing people time and again. As for Butch’s advice, it was a bit more comedic.

“Don’t get old,” Butch advised with a laugh.

That’s a little harder to follow than Janice’s solid advice. So, the next time you head out on a seemingly mundane Monday morning adventure, you might want to give someone a heads-up, just in case you find yourself in a sticky situation you can’t get out of.