A woman spent three nights in the freezing cold of Alaska, sheltered under her snowmobile. She was found to be suffering from hypothermia, and stayed alive largely because her dog Elvis snuggled with her to keep warm.
Vivian Mayo, 57, was discovered around 1 am on Wednesday sheltered beneath the shell of her snowmobile, which she burned to keep Elvis and herself warm.
Spokeswoman Megan Peters said the small brown dog helped preserve Vivian’s body heat.
“It really did help save her life,” she said. “Elvis is a little hero.”
Vivian and her husband Scott were traveling by snowmobile to a cabin near the Denali National Park and Preserve. The highway connects two paved highways, but it is not plowed during the winter, and is not accessible by car.
Scott left on Saturday to check on a trap line four miles away. But he did not return by the next day. The Mayos were due to return home to Cantwell on Tuesday, but fearing what might have happened, Vivian decided to go home and get help.
She didn’t make it very far. Her snowmobile broke down about a mile from the cabin. When the Mayos didn’t come home as expected, family members called for reinforcements. Alaska Wildlife Trooper James Ellison and volunteer rescuers found Vivian and Elvis in three hours.
Vivian’s mobility is limited, and she could not get back to the cabin. She worried about nearby wolves. Temperatures had dropped to 20 degrees below 0, and they wouldn’t have lasted much longer.
After getting the nearly frozen pair back to the cabin, rescuers focused on finding Scott. Following his snowmobile tracks, searchers took to the sky and found Scott only two to three miles from the cabin, but his tracks indicated that he traveled much farther. He had a fire going and was in fair condition, despite spending four days braving the arctic cold.
Vivian and Scott both went to a hospital. They have since been released, and are now recuperating at home with their hero dog, Elvis.